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City mulls 2020 property tax credit

In an effort to keep a little more money in the pockets of taxpayers, City of Grande Prairie councillors will soon vote on a rebate for the municipal portion of their 2020 property taxes.

The discussion surrounding property tax increases came to a head Tuesday at a Committee of the Whole meeting, at which councillors balked at a proposed zero per cent increase, opting to stay the course with the previously agreed-upon 1.25 per cent increase. Instead, they will offer a credit for what the increase adds on.

Mayor Bill Given says the impact on taxpayers will end up being the same as it would have been had council approved a no increase. But, going forward, he notes it leaves the city with more financial wiggle room next year.

“It does retain some flexibility in the 2021 budget, taking this approach with the tax credit,” Given says. “I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot of cities across the province move in that direction, including Medicine Hat, and in our region, like Dawson Creek I believe has as well.”

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“The tax credit will apply to the municipal portion of the property taxes. Obviously we’re not in charge of the provincial portion of the tax bill,” he adds.

Given says when the tax slips are mailed out to residents in the near future, the credit will show up as a “COVID-19 relief” line on the 2020 assessment.

“We recognize that this is really an unprecedented time for our community as it is for the rest of the world. I think council is making some wise decisions here as to how we best respond now, and in a quick manner, while still retaining the flexibility to continue to support the community into the future.”

The final decision will come at the May 19th city council meeting. If approved, the rebate is expected to cost the city $1.5 million.

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