Town of Picture Butte
According to a recent media release from the Town of Picture Butte, most property owners are not aware the annual tax rate is made up of three smaller rates — education tax, seniors’ housing tax and municipal tax.
All three of these rates are multiplied by the assessed value of the property and added together to arrive at the total taxes owing for the year. For most people, all that matters is the total taxes, according to the media release.
“When total taxes go down, people are generally happy. When taxes go up, people generally get upset, and I think it’s fair to be upset. That’s why we try to keep taxes as steady as possible without any sudden jumps or big hikes. The problem with this is the town only controls the municipal rate. We have no control at all over the school or seniors’ housing rates. Despite our best efforts to keep property tax as low and as stable as possible, if the province decides to hike up the other two tax rates, we have no choice but to collect what we’re told. This is exactly what happened this year,” said Patrick Lyster, director of corporate services, in the media release.
According to the media release, the residential municipal mill rate will be going up to 7.23049 (7.19902 in 2016). This is an increase of about 0.44 per cent.
“Which I think most people would agree is reasonable. Unfortunately, the school tax rate is increasing by almost 7 per cent to 2.48586 (2.32855 in 2016), and the seniors’ housing tax rate is going up almost eight per cent to 0.12902 (.11984 in 2016). As an example, if you have a property with a steady value of $200,000, your total tax bill would increase by about $40, but only about $6 of that would be going to the town, the other $34 increase will go to the province,” Lyster explained.
Lyster added the non-residential rates will also be increasing, and in the case of the provincial taxes, they will be increasing a fair amount. The municipal rate will be 8.7000 (8.6500 in 2016), which works out to an increase of about 0.58 per cent.
“Again, I think most property owners would agree an increase of less than one per cent is reasonable. However, the seniors’ housing rate is the same as residential, increasing almost 8 per cent to 0.12902 (.11984 in 2016) and the school rate is increasing by a whopping 19.6 per cent to 3.76362 (3.14686 in 2016). As another example, the owner of a $400,000 commercial property would see a total tax increase of over $270, but only $20 of that $270 is actually going to the town. The rest of that increase will be collected by the town and given directly to the province,” Lyster noted.
At the end of the day, Lyster said, the town is happy with the 2017 tax rates.
“Our mill rates are still lower than they were two and three years ago, which I think says a lot about our commitment to keeping tax rates affordable. Although the province has increased the school tax rate and the seniors’ housing tax rate, we’ve been able to keep stable the one thing we can control, the municipal tax rate,” said Lyster.