It will cost a little bit extra to live in the Town of Ponoka this year.
Council voted recently to raise taxes by 5.35 per cent in an effort to bring them in line with similarly sized Alberta communities. There will also be an increase of five per cent for commercial taxes.
The jump in taxes is expected to bring in an extra $256,000 this year, giving the town a budget of $22.3 million — $15.3 million for operating and $7 million for capital expenses.
“We’ve always been lower than most other municipalities, so we’re really just trying to get back into the middle of the pack in comparative terms,” said acting CAO Betty Quinlan.
“We’re just finding it difficult to manage the operations on less tax dollars than comparable communities, and at the same time not to increase taxes too much.”
According to Quinlan, last year, an average tax assessment in similar communities for residential properties was about 6.7 per cent and Ponoka was at 6.2 per cent; non-residential assessments were at 9.7 and Ponoka was at 8.2 per cent. The breakdown had Ponoka residents paying about $140 less per capita than these other communities.
The residential tax increase results in $33 per $100,000 more for residential assessment. In other words, To someone with a home worth $300,000, this means a bump of about $99 in their tax bill for the year.
The commercial tax increase comes out to $41 per $100,000 more.
The increase will be offset by a drop in the Rimoka Foundation and school requisitions by $14 per $100,000, for a net offset of $29 per $100,000.
One of the biggest project on the books for this year is a full replacement of all water meters, an $875,000 investment that the town has spent the last three years saving for.
“It really updates the technology,” said Quinlan. “You can read everything once a month, you don’t have to have someone physically go out there … and you can monitor use if there are any kind of problems.”