Vauxhall residents are going to see an increase in the town’s operating budget when it comes time to pay their property taxes.
Vauxhall town council voted to increase the municipal requisition amount by three per cent during its regular meeting on March 3. The increase comes as part of the adopted 2014 town budget. A draft of the budget had been discussed on Feb. 20 as part of a special council meeting.
Based on a home assessed at $200,000, the three per cent increase would be about $26 over what they paid last year. A home assessed at $160,000 would see an increase of $23, while a house assessed at $250,000, the increase would come to $36.
The increase is coming in the town’s portion of taxes paid by local residents for day-to-day operations, and makes up just one part of the total property tax bill. Property taxes contain multiple components, including requisitions from Alberta School Foundation Fund (ASFF), Taber District Housing Foundation (TDHF), and other requisitions from organizations such as Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and the Vauxhall Public Library. The operating budget is the only portion of the tax bill council has control over. School and housing requisitions won’t be known until the provincial budget is handed down later this week, so it is unknown at this time exactly what local residents will find when they open their property tax bills for 2014.
“We get requisitioned from the Taber and District Housing Foundation (TDHF), and Alberta School Foundation Fund (ASFF),” said Barb Miller, Vauxhall’s chief administrative officer, in response to a question about further possible increases from deputy mayor Russell Norris. She speculated there could be an increase in the request from the housing foundation, but had no information on what the situation might be with school taxes.
“(TDHF) just opened a brand new kitchen and stuff, so I would expect an increase in the requisition amount,” she said. She added she didn’t expect a reduction in school taxes. “It’s a number that comes to me that says, you need to collect this much money, and this is where you need to collect it from.”
“There’s nothing council can do about (the other requisitions),” she added. “It is what it is. They don’t get to debate or discuss it.”
At the March 3 meeting, council was presented with four options for increase, including:
A zero per cent increase;
A two per cent increase in order to raise approximately $10,900, reducing the budgeted deficit to $383,400;
A 2.5 per cent increase to raise approximately $13,625, reducing the budgeted deficit to $380,675; and
A three per cent increase to raise approximately $16,350, reducing the budgeted deficit to $377,950.
The budget presented for discussion included a zero per cent increase to the 2013 request of $545,000 and reflects a budgeted loss of $394,300, of which $384,800 is amortization expense.
“It’s the amortization that’s killing us,” said Mayor Margaret Plumtree in response to a question from a local resident in attendance. “If you look at the numbers, that’s where we really get hit.”
Following discussion, deputy mayor Russell Norris passed a motion to adopt the 2014 operating budget as presented with a three per cent increase to the municipal requisition amount to reflect a budgeted deficit of $377,950, which carried unanimously.