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Bonnyville town council approves zero municipal tax increase

MD of Bonnyville looking at their options to give small business a helping hand with taxes
property taxes
The Town of Bonnyville approved their 2020 tax rate bylaw with a zero per cent municipal tax increase.

BONNYVILLE – Local municipalities are doing what they can to keep municipal taxes at a minimum for property owners.

The Town of Bonnyville passed their 2020 tax rate bylaw with a zero per cent increase over last year, while the MD of Bonnyville is taking some more time to weigh their options prior to making a decision.

Cold Lake city council also passed the first reading for their 2020 tax rate, with a 1.24 per cent increase for municipal taxes.

Town decides against tax increase

Town council approved an zero per cent average municipal tax dollar increase during their May 12 meeting.

The overall mill rate is decreasing by 7.89 per cent for residential and 3.71 per cent for non-residential, thanks to a dip in the school requisition and the Centennial Centre levy being paid off in 2019.

“The mill rate for residential for this year has a decrease overall by 0.80883 mills and that’s due to a decrease in the school requisition and the removal of the Centennial Centre levy,” detailed director of finance Rene Stoyles. “The mill rate for commercial has decreased by 0.554471 mills also due to the school requisition and the Centennial Centre levy.”

The town's revenue includes just over $7.9 million in general municipal taxes for 2020, along with $2.39 million for the Alberta School Foundation Fund and close to $333,000 for opted-out school boards.

The mill rate for the school requisition sits at 2.37760 for residential properties, a decrease of 21.97 per cent, and 3.65740 for commercial, a drop of 14.03 per cent. This is due to an over charge that occurred in 2019 as the final school requisition wasn’t available when council approved last year’s tax rate bylaw.

Approximately $85,000 is being collected for the senior's requisition, with a mill rate of 0.08963 for residential and commercial.

MD looking to help small business

At their May 13 meeting, MD council decided against setting their tax rate bylaw. Instead, they instructed administration to make changes to assist small businesses within the municipality during this economic downturn.

“We’re in a case right now where our economy is taking a brutal hit, and we have a number of businesses that are suffering still through closures and through no fault of their own,” expressed Reeve Greg Sawchuk. “We do have room… (to do) a reduction for small businesses and it wouldn’t be significant if we lower taxes on these small businesses slightly, maintain our non-residential and maintain our residential at the rate they’re at.”

In 2019, the small business mill rate was sitting at 13.05, the residential tax rate was 2.76630 mills, and non-residential was 14.5 mills.

During the 2020 budget deliberations, council originally estimated to raise about $62 million in municipal taxes. They're also required to collect $12.6 million in school requisitions and $507,000 for the senior's foundation requisition.

A new bylaw will be presented to council during their May 20 meeting.

Cold Lake passes slight tax increase

Cold Lake passed the first reading of their tax rate bylaw, with a 1.24 per cent municipal tax increase for all classes. However, thanks to a drop in the school requisition, Mayor Craig Copeland noted most residents could see a small dip in their taxes.

“We’re expecting a drop in the education component, so overall, Cold Lake residents should see a slight decrease in their property taxes this year and the business community will probably be neutral," explained Copeland. “The school requisition is less so we can bring that over to the taxpayer so we’ll be collecting less from them and so overall the taxes should go down on average.”

Overall, the city will collect $4.25 million for the Alberta School Foundation Fund and $2.2 million for opted-out school boards. The senior's requisition is approximately $200,000. Due to a reduction in the amount the city is required to collect for the requisitions, they're expecting an overall decrease of about 1.58 per cent for residential properties and a 0.23 per cent increase for non-residential.

The city will generate approximately $20.8 million in revenue from municipal taxes, including $16 million from the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range and a $1.2 million allowance for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT).

The residential municipal tax rate for 2020 is sitting at 8.4179 mills, multi-family residential has a mill rate of 8.7510, and non-residential is 12.6985 mills. In accordance with the city's agreement with the MD, annexed residential land has a mill rate of 2.7663 and the rate for annexed farmland is 5.

City council will discuss the tax rate bylaw further during their corporate priorities meeting on May 19.

Robynne Henry, Bonnyville Nouvelle