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County budget sees 2.9 per cent tax hike to fund road maintenance, fire service

The County of Grande Prairie has released its final 2024 budget which includes a 2.9 per cent municipal tax rate and an emphasis on fire services and road conditions.

The tax increase would see residents paying around $58.69 per year, or $4.89 per month on a residential property valued at $482,000.

The $223.5 million budget includes an “estimated” $107 million for general operations, $6.5 million for debt payments, and $110 million for capital investments, including $54.3 million for past projects.

According to the county, the tax rate increase comes as the municipality continues to work against provincial changes to assessment rules, which led to millions of dollars in lost revenue. Officials say the pause on taxes for new well and pipeline projects has led to the loss of around $12.7 million for the county over the past four years, on top of roughly $9 million due to the elimination of the oil well drilling tax.

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County Reeve Bob Marshall says according to the 2023 Citizen Satisfaction Survey, a “growing number” of residents reported feeling that they receive good value for taxes. Marshall says it was important for his council to continue providing services, even if a tax increase is necessary.

“For the past three years, we have held the line on the municipal portion of taxes and used reserve funding to balance the budget, and we hope our residents will be understanding that inflationary pressures are affecting us all,” he says. “The moderate municipal tax increase is vital to maintaining our current service delivery levels to ensure our residents continue to experience a high quality of life.”

The majority of the county’s capital budget will go towards road and bridge projects; however, fire response measures saw a $483,140 investment, including a second Fire Prevention Officer position, six decontamination washing machines, a light fire service vehicle, and four full-time firefighters. The near $500K investment is in addition to the $750,000 approved during the interim budget to fund another FPO position and eight full-time firefighter positions.

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