By Collin Gallant
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Farm and residential tax rates in Cypress County may stand pat in 2024, but small business and large non-residential accounts could see a near eight per cent increase.
County councillors approved the final operational budget update for the coming year on Dec. 5 in Dunmore.
It will conclude a five-year plan to phase in changes to bring the county’s tax rates up from historically low levels to the 20th percentile of rates across the province.
Tax revenue will increase by $4.1 million to a total of $35.1 million next year, while use of internal reserve funds and transfer rises for capital projects increases by one third to $18.9 million.
Total expenses will rise to $36.9 million, driven by a 4 per cent increase in wages ($380,000) and contracted services ($1 million) along with payments for other government services ($360,000), like the policing contract.
The final mill rates will be set next spring, but suggested changes are to leave farm and residential rates unchanged and add 7.9 per cent to non-residential, non-farm rates.
Several years ago council approved creating a “small business” assessment sub-class with the specific mill rate to be set at no less than 75 per cent of the mill rate of large business, or “non-residential” business.
Changes could come to the capital budget in April 2024 after the provincial government releases details of its main municipal infrastructure support grant. The Local Government Fiscal Framework will replace the former Municipal Sustainability Initiative when the 2024-25 Alberta budget takes effect at the end of March.
The comparison of residential to non-residential mill rates for 2024 finds the business rate is about three times higher, under the provincial limit of five times.