By Cole Parkinson
The final numbers for the 2018 Municipal District of Taber budget have been put forward as information for council.
The budget projects a $520,552 operating budget deficit which includes a non-cash expense of $4,232,077 for amortization.
“We’re no where near that $4.2 million in deficit. For 2018 final budget projects to $520,552 and the budget also projects a net change of cash of $4,764,704 less than compared to 2017. In 2017 projected an amount of $868,000 less cash in the bank account and it was very close to that. This was due to planned projects being undertaken by the M.D. of Taber 2018 which includes storm water drainage project, walking trail into M.D. Park, paving in the Hamlet of Hays and Hamlet of Grassy Lake, water servicing project for light industrial land in Enchant, backup power generators in Hays and Grassy Lake,” said Bryan Badura, director of corporate services for the M.D.
Originally there was a projected two per cent increase to municipal tax revenues from an estimated increase of 2 percent from linear assessment.
With the additional increase to the tax revenues, the M.D. estimated there would have been an additional $291,684 generated based upon the prior year’s rates.
Property tax revenues meanwhile were expected to increase by five to seven per cent based on collaboration between the M.D. assessment team and Municipal Affairs which would work out to a two per cent increase to property tax revenues.
The final operating budget projects a net property tax revenue increase of $514,197.
For linear property assessment Municipal Affairs has thrown a bit of a curveball as the increase was never fully realized.
“Unexpectedly, due to a change by Alberta Municipal Affairs, the two per cent increase in linear property assessment did not materialize. As such, the MD of Taber’s non-residential and linear assessment has decreased by approximately $22,019,960 (1.66%), at the current municipal mill rate of 8.4547, this amounts to $186,172.00 less property tax dollars from non-residential and linear properties in 2018. This is a continuation to what occurred in 2017, when property taxes revenue decreased by approximately $535,000 due to falling linear oil and gas property assessment values,” said Badura.
“In the 2018 final budget is an increase to the municipal mill rate of 4.53% for non-residential and linear properties, which amounts to $499,508.00 in additional property taxes. The net increase in non-residential and linear property taxes is budgeted at approximately $313,336.00. So this is a culmination of the decrease received from reduced assessments and a mill rate increase which makes up to an additional $313,000.”
Residential assessments have also increased by $28,904,600 which generates $101,863 as the mill rate is currently set at 3.5241.
Farmland assessment has seen an increase with a mill rate increase of three per cent which works out to $44,484 in additional property taxes approximately with the net increase estimated at 2.73 per cent.
The fire protection budget has seen a slight dip from 2017 as it currently sits at $992,573 down from $1,094,730.
Council has also approved to increase the number of volunteer firefighters within its fire departments up to 125.
Volunteer fire chiefs and deputy fire fighters will see their honorariums bumped to $2,500 and $2,000 respectively.
There will be increases to wages and benefits for planning and development staff as there will be a new development and economic officer with the planned retirement of some in development staff.
With a few projects coming up in 2018, the council has set aside $37,500 for a planned intermunicipal development plan project with the Town of Taber and $31,250 for an economic development study.
Water sales revenue in hamlets in the M.D. has increased to $18,000 as demand has risen due to development of new properties.
Revenues have increased from services provided to Regional Water Service Commissions by the M.D. to cover increased costs to provide this service which was at $21,248.
Bylaw enforcement numbers are down as the introduction of two Level 1 Peace Officers have led the M.D. to eliminate their RCMP contract which saves them $43,000.
A question coming from council revolved around the many bridges in M.D. land that need to be replaced and whether or not that would be in the budget.
“We fund a portion of it either 75/25 or 80/20 but we have that budgeted,” answered Badura.
The information was accepted as information.