Operating budget passes, tax rate increase coming
A 1.25 per cent tax increase is projected
Tuesday, Mar 01, 2016 06:00 am
Council passed the town's $26.5-million operating budget for 2016 on Feb. 22, which factors in a 1.25 per cent tax rate increase.
A separate tax rate increase bylaw still needs to be passed by council, likely in the spring, after property assessment numbers come in.
The new tax rates, paid for each $1,000 of a property's assessed value, would be: 5.6125 per cent for residential and 7.6783 per cent for non-residential.
Using current assessment numbers, the average homeowner would pay about $17 more this year. The average non-residential property owner would pay about $200 more.
When first presented to council on Feb. 8, the initial operating budget for this year projected a $227,731 deficit. Council directed administration to find further efficiencies.
Olds mayor Judy Dahl said she was pleased with changes administration made to balance this budget.
"Those efficiencies made them take a second hard look at areas that would not have likely (been) examined other than the fact that it was a request by council," Dahl said.
With the exception of a levy to replenish snow removal reserves in 2014 and another to contribute to the splash park construction in 2015, tax rates have not changed since 2012.
Chief financial officer Garth Lucas said the town has been as lean as it could be and finding further cuts was difficult.
"Yes, it was. I will give credit to the entire town staff, that we have been able to maintain, so far as operation is concerned, a zero tax increase for years 2013, ’14, ’15 – in spite of the fact that inflation has been going up and the cost of doing business has been going up. The town has been getting larger so that means there's more park area to maintain and more street length to maintain," Lucas said.
He added that the town will keep the same number of staff.
Dahl said 1.25 per cent is the most tax rates will increase this year, even if assessment numbers come in lower than expected.
"Not this year," Dahl said when asked if she would support a higher increase. "This year, we had our community and businesses hit hard with the economy. There's a bright light at the end of the tunnel but today we need to help our neighbours."