Grande Prairie taxpayers can expect their tax bills to be slightly higher in 2021 than they were in 2020. During budget deliberations, members of Grande Prairie city council elected to raise property taxes by 0.15 per cent.
Mayor Bill Given says it’s not a long term solution to rising external costs, but it goes to show that fiscal prudence has been a hallmark of the current council.
“The 0.15 per cent is well below the rate of inflation, which means that the city is essentially delivering the services and facilities that residents expect, within a very similar envelope of money.”
“We will still have a net property tax reduction over the course of the four years of this council term. Taxes in 2021 will be lower than they were in 2017 when this council was first elected, and I think that really is reflective of the focus this council brought to the table for the course of this entire term.”
Taxpayers will also notice a lack of the COVID-19 tax rebate appearing on their bills, which was distributed for 2020. The grant was equal to the 1.5 per cent tax increase that was observed at the previous budget in order to mitigate the extra costs of the time. Given says residents will have seen on their 2020 tax bill the grant was not recurring.
“In the 2020 tax year, council essentially chose to provide a credit, or a grant, to all property owners that zeroed out the 2020 tax increase. That wasn’t an ongoing grant, it was a one-time grant,” he says. “The 2021 tax bill will be reflective of what their base would have been plus the 0.15 per cent that was reflective of the decisions that council made.”
Given adds despite the ongoing pandemic and challenging economic times, inflation continues to rise and put pressure on the city’s finances.
“The very small total dollar increase should give residents the confidence that their municipal government understands the current times that we’re all living in, and the priority that residents have placed on prudent fiscal management.”
The 0.15 per cent refers to the impact on the overall tax base. Some properties will increase or decrease in value depending on market sales and market comparators, and that will impact the bottom line on a resident’s tax bill.
“We just really caution people against imagining that has the exact same impact on their individual bill and their individual property,” he says.