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City debt refinancing leads to property tax decrease

Due to debt refinancing, people in Grande Prairie could pay lower property taxes in 2019. During this year’s budget talks, the city announced a 4.1 per cent property tax decrease. In order to get to that number, Mayor Bill Given says the city adjusted the way it repays its debt.

“In the past, the City of Grande Prairie had a practice of paying down debt over 20 years, which really meant that the property taxpayers of today were paying the bulk of the cost of a building that they might not be around to use. So what we did was better align the payment of the cost over the life span of the asset.”

Grande Prairie city council spent three days in November going over operating and capital budgets for the next four years. Throughout those three days, the city took $75-$80 million of their debt and refinanced it, freeing up enough money to lower taxes for the year.

Looking ahead to the future, Given says the lines of communication between the city and community will need to remain open.

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“What we’re going to have to do is have some conversations as a community about what the role of the city is and what services we expect the city to deliver on an ongoing basis because services will not cost less in the future then they do today. We’re gonna need to have a real discussion about which services are important to us and to what extent we expect the city to deliver them.”

With the reduction, Given says the average homes’ property taxes will be around $100 less per year. He says people can expect to see the updated rate when their bill is released halfway through 2019.

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