Town council approves tax rate bylaw

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The Town of Nanton is collecting 1.55 per cent more in taxes this year, an increase that councillors, the mayor and administration say the Alberta government’s new police tax is accountable for.

On April 6, Nanton Town council approved this year’s tax rate bylaw after approving the three-year operating budget at the previous meeting.

For 2020 municipal expenses, the Town needs to collect a total of $2,960,625 – $45,225 more than last year. The increase is strictly due to the new police tax, wrote Clayton Gillespie, the Town’s corporate services manager, in a report.

“The police tax for 2020 is $45,665, so if it wasn’t for this, we would actually be collecting $240 less than 2019,” wrote Gillespie. “However, with this included the total municipal funds required from taxation is 1.55 per cent higher than 2019.”

Town council set the 2020 residential mill rate at 9.3623, which is slightly higher than 2019’s.


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The Town of Nanton will need to pay the Alberta government $763,555 for the education requisition.

“This is 14 per cent lower or $124,687 less than 2019,” he wrote.

Nanton homeowners also pay taxes to the Mosquito Creek Foundation, which owns and operates the Silver Willow Lodge as well as the Designated Supportive Living unit. The foundation’s 2020 requisition to the Town is $1,460 less – 1.3 per cent lower – than 2019’s.

Gillespie notes that the average single-family dwelling assessment decreased by 2.6 per cent, with the average single-family dwelling being $243,439 in 2020, compared to $251,392 in 2019.

“Based on this and the approved budget the average single-family dwelling will see an overall decrease of $85 to their tax bill in 2020,” wrote Gillespie.

Assessments were mostly down on the commercial side as well, but the total assessment went up, he wrote.

“This is due to a couple of large industrial properties – with the exception of these the average assessment went from $235,016 down to $229,307. So, for the average non-residential property based on the approved budget, the taxes paid will be down approximately $300.”

The commercial mill rate was set at 13.0067, down slightly from 2019.

The Town of Nanton sends out tax notices in May, taxes are due by June 30.

Due to COVID-19 and its effect on the economy, Gillespie suggested during the meeting that an amendment could be made to the tax penalty bylaw if council wants to pursue that option.


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Currently, taxes not paid by June 30 are subject to a nine per cent penalty and a further 18 per cent penalty on Jan. 1.

Council could reduce the penalties or extended the tax due date, as some other municipalities have done, said Gillespie.

Mayor Jennifer Handley asked administration if council could, at the next meeting, continue the conversation about – and possibly change – the tax due date and late penalties.

“We could bring something back regarding that,” replied Gillespie.

The Town could find “a little bit of” savings in its 2020 budget, he said during the meeting.

“The pool is really the big question mark at this point” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Gillespie. “I’m not sure if we’ll be able to open.”

The Town has budgeted $100,000 for pool expenses and $40,000 in revenue, he wrote.

If the outdoor pool is closed for the season, Gillespie brought up a few options for how those savings could be used: placed into reserves for future projects, set aside as contingency funds or offset increases in the 2021 budget.

“Although cutting it from the 2020 budget would result in fairly significant savings the resulting budget in 2021 will be that much more difficult,” he wrote.

Administration is not recommending any further cuts “due to challenges that would present in 2021,” he said.

“We are aiming for the most minimal change to taxation already this year before we had current events,” said Neil Smith, chief administrative officer, referring to the novel coronavirus outbreak.


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“We are now proposing a tax reduction scenario without significant change.”

Unlike some other municipalities, the Town of Nanton had not proposed an increase of four to five per cent before the COVID-19 crisis, he added.

“I don’t recommend further cuts based on uncertainty around the pool or VIC (Visitor Information Centre) season at present for a couple of reasons,” he told council. “There remains a chance first that the recreational services could be activated for a portion of the summer, and this could fulfill an important community need at that time.

“The COVID-19 situation may well necessitate the use of funds for other emergency purposes that are currently unforeseen, so any recreational operation savings may prove valuable.”

Smith added that savings on recreation could be an opportunity to establish the arena multiplex reserve with some funding. He suggested the finance committee could further discuss the establishment of this reserve fund.

“Further taxation cuts in 2020 could lead to anticipation of the same in 2021, in similarly straightened economic circumstances,” said Smith. “Come 2021, at that time we would be unable to meet those expectations without engaging in fairly significant service level cuts.”

Coun. Victor Czop said he could not support a 1.55 per cent tax increase, even with the police tax accounting for that increase. Czop voted in favour of the first two readings of the tax rate bylaw, but was the only member of council to vote against it on third reading.


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“I am on record that I did not support a one per cent (increase) last year,” he said. “With this 1.55, I think we’re two and a half per cent out of sync. I’ve looked and studied our whole financial picture, and I still firmly believe there’s a few areas we could cost those costs in support of people of what they’re going through and come in at either zero or slightly less.”

Addressing budgeting for recreation spending “in case the world becomes OK later in the year,” he said residents can’t afford any more taxes and could live without the “recreational features that the Town offers for the balance of the year.”

He also said the Town could save about $50,000 for the “park area for the visitor centre.”

“That isn’t going to drive tourism,” said Czop. “It’s already pretty well known tourism will be very poor this year and I don’t think any money spent there could possibly make an impact.”

Any increase in taxes doesn’t sit well with him.

“They’ve already said that the inflation is affecting meat and produce,” he said. “If we start adding up these costs, we’re going to have more hurting citizens.”

Council needs to adjust its priorities in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the drastic decline in the price of oil, said Czop.

“It would be great to stay on track with that spending that we want to address where we want to go with the strategic plan, but I think these special circumstances say ‘no,’” and those adjustments have to be done.”

Coun. Terry Wickett said the police tax on small communities is unfair.


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“We cannot sustain this,” he said of the police tax.

Coun. Dan McLelland wondered why the Town needed to include the police tax in the Town’s budget instead of showing it as a separate requisition.

“We can’t present as a requisition tax unfortunately,” said Smith. The CAO added that Doug Schweitzer, Alberta’s justice minister, in his letter to the Town of Nanton states that “isn’t a tax per se.”

“Which means that it’s a charge that the municipality raises and pays,” said Smith.

Gillespie added the education and Mosquito Creek Foundation requisitions are based off an assessment, but the Town doesn’t have a separate requisition to use for the contribution the municipality is making towards policing.

Handley said the Town is not increasing its taxes by 1.55 per cent, but has not increased taxes at all in 2020.

“The province has added (a) 1.55 per cent charge to our budget,” said Handley. “We pushed back with our MLA (Roger Reid), several mayors and I, down in Fort Macleod a couple of months ago, saying, ‘Alright, if we’ve got to pay this police tax, then you need to put it as a requisition so it’s very clear.’”

But at the moment it’s just included within the Town’s budget, she added.

Coun. Dave Mitchell said the Alberta government has given the Town of Nanton a bill for policing.

“How we choose to pay for it is up to us,” he said. “We’re choosing to pay for it out of taxes.”

Coun. John G. Dozeman said the contribution the Town is making to policing is in fact a tax.

“And their inability to call it that leaves us a bit high and dry when dealing with our citizens on calling it what it is,” he said. “It is a requisition. We are being demanded to pay the police tax, and either we eat it or we do the right thing – we hold the province accountable to this charge and explain that to our citizens. And I think that’s exactly what we’re doing, and I applaud administration’s efforts on this file.”

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