County of Wetaskiwin agrees on 1.5 per cent average overall tax increase

2019 mill rates to be approved at May 14 meeting

County of Wetaskiwin councilors passed their 2019 budget at their regular meeting May 6, which includes a 1.5 per cent overall tax increase.

Editor’s note: This represents an average 1.5 per cent tax increase. Some will be 3 per cent, others may be zero per cent, depending on their overall assessment.

Councilors had already examined possible budgets and tax rates at previous meetings. They had instructed staff to prepare a budget that proposed no more than a 1.5 per cent average overall tax increase for 2019.

County CAO Rod Hawken presented the agenda item to councilors. “In reference to the Council General Meeting held on April 29, 2019, County Administration reviewed options for reducing the budget to accomplish Council’s request for an average 1.5 per cent tax increase.

“The first option Administration provided on April 29, 2019 with a 3 per cent increase in the Residential Mill Rate accomplishes that. However, it requires that we reduce the budget by $1.1 million which will put the 2019 budget below the total 2018 budget (option 2 in the alternatives). Administration believes this direction is compounding the reduction in taxes from three years ago where we eliminated most of the reserve transfers for future projects.

“If the reductions are made, it may not affect the 2019 projects, but will certainly catch up to the County in future years,” stated Hawken.

Hawken did have some good news for councilors, however. The $1.1 million in budget cuts would be partially offset by gas tax funding of about $600,000 received from the federal government. Hence, for 2019, the county only had to find $500,000 in savings to keep the tax increase at 1.5 overall.

Reeve Terry Van de Kraats noted the down economy for several years has had an effect on the County of Wetaskiwin. “We have less money coming in,” said Van de Kraats.

Councilors debated several items on a list provided by Hawken.

Councilor Bill Krahn voiced concern about the lessened county revenue and cuts to projects; he moved that councilors approve a budget with an increase slightly larger than proposed, at 2.78 per cent overall.

Councilor Kathy Rooyakkers said she couldn’t support a tax increase that large, especially when the county is moving money into reserves. She said the carbon tax has had an effect on the county and lots of people in her division are still looking for work.

Councilor Josh Bishop said more thought needs to be put into future budgets. “Are we just going to tax our way out of the problem?” he asked.

Krahn’s motion was defeated by a 3-4 vote.

Councilors eventually settled on a 1.5 per cent overall tax increase and cutting $500,000 from projects, after applying the $600,000 gas tax revenue. Projects included redirecting $100,000 from a Breton RCMP program, $100,000 for intersection treatments, reduce brushing work by $150,000, cutting the IT reserve by $10,000 and reducing road construction down to $233,000.

The budget proposal was approved by a 4 to 3 vote.

Mill rates still need to be approved, which will be done at an upcoming meeting.

Just Posted

Is it time for your mammogram?

Screen Test is coming to Maskwacis on October 15 and 16, and… Continue reading

Man pointed firearm around Wetaskiwin Circle K store Sept. 14

Wetaskiwin RCMP investigate firearms offences

Mulhurst Bay revitalization project discussed Aug. 13

Three phase project includes price tag over $900,000

Cow feeding economics for the 2019-20 winter season

Keep in mind prrice and availability of feed

Boat and trailer purchase necessary, hears county council

Several departments needed a better boat says CAO

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Alberta spends $3M to hire 30 nurse practitioners for remote areas

Province has 600 nurse practitioners, but minister says most work in hospitals or outpatient clinics

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Sylvan Lake man charged with wife’s murder

Satnam Singh Sandhu, 41, will appear in Red Deer Provincial Court on Sept. 18

National weather forecasters predict average fall, cold winter

The Weather Network says precipitation will about average in most parts of Canada

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Most Read