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Tax increase to cover County’s loss in linear revenue

The County has had to up property taxes to balance its budget. The average residential owner is looking at a 1.8 per cent increase, or $49, while non-residential owners are facing a 0.82 per cent increase and farmland 2.68 per cent.

The interim budget passed last December didn’t include a hike to the mill rate, but since then, the County found out its well and pipeline levies weren’t getting an increase from the provincial government as expected. That created a more than $1.2 million deficit for the County.

“Usually we’ve been able to take that number to the bank and count on it,” says CAO Bill Rogan. “This year, for whatever reason, in December after our budget cycle was done we were made aware that those numbers, in fact, weren’t going to be the numbers used.”

While in Grande Prairie in February, Minister of Municipal Affairs Shaye Anderson said the province froze the linear property assessment modifiers for a year to help energy companies just getting back on their feet after the economic downturn. Rogan says county council was able to find some ways to make up for the lost revenue, but not nearly enough to avoid a change to the mill rate.

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“One million dollars is what we needed to make up and that’s what we did through the tax increase.”

The County’s budget for 2018 is $155.5 million, including $80.8 million for operations and $74.6 for capital. The capital budget is also up this year, and 65 per cent of it has been set aside for road projects.

“Certainly this year we did see an increase in our costs to build roads; that drove it up a bit,” Rogan explains. “That’s, I think, a sense of what the economy is doing locally. Prices are starting to rebound.”

He adds that they had accounted for inflation in the interim budget, but the majority of road work tenders came in higher than expected. Proposed new construction includes more than 23 kilometres of road surfacing.

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