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Modest two per cent increase for taxes in Picture Butte

Posted on June 10, 2014 by Sunny South News

Just in time for taxation notices to be sent out, Town of Picture Butte councillors passed an amended budget and tax rate in one night at a regular council meeting held May 26.

Although the passing of a bylaw’s first, second and third readings all in one night, is typically unheard of — with an unanimous vote — council was able to proceed and assessments will be mailed out in June.

The town’s new residential tax rate comes in slightly higher than last year’s 6.9, at 7.19 (mill-rate) this year, non-residential is also up slightly from last year’s 8.7 at 8.75 (mill-rate). “We are pretty pleased with how that turned out,” said Chief Administrative Officer Mike Derricott, of the bylaw passing.

“(The tax rate is) very comparable and as far in what it works out to, it’s generally about two per cent tax increase. Obviously, individual property is dictated by individual assessments, so some may have gone down or up.”

Mil rates vary from community to community, but Butte has been somewhat advantageous in terms of their assessment reflecting a “healthy industry base.”

Patrick Lyster, the town’s new director of corporate services, was also an integral part of the budget revamp and tax rate build.

“Raymond has a population of 4,000, but 90 per cent of their assessment is residential, ours is about 75. Typically, community entities make money, so they are taxed a little higher, which takes pressure off the residents,” Derricott explained.

“When you look at our region, our tax rate falls right in the middle of what’s common for communities in southern Alberta. Typically, I think that’s where you’d like to be — you don’t want to be the highest and you don’t want to be the lowest.”

Although council had to work hard in order to recoup some funds, which had been allocated incorrectly the previous year, they were able to pass the budget with no impact  on taxes.

“We needed to trim down the budget a bit (based on) an error in previous documents,” Derricott explained.

“It’ something that just happened last year and we caught it through the audit process. . . taxes weren’t raised to cover the difference, we just made adjustments to make up the difference that was required.”

Corrections to the budget were made based on recommendations made by the auditor. “Most of what was cut was reserve transfers, so it didn’t have a large impact on day-to-day programs, whether it be recreational programming or sidewalk repair — we didn’t have to make cuts in those types of areas, which was really fortunate,” Derricott said, of the necessary budget cuts made.

“Pat did some great work on that. We are very pleased to see it’s well within our target and along the guidelines council said they wanted to see.”

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