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St. Albert edges closer to 80-20 tax split

Non-residential tax base making up more of the property tax pie

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 06:00 am

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St. Albert continues to slowly move towards the much-talked-about 80-20 tax assessment split between residential and non-residential properties.

The assessment split now stands at 86.8 per cent residential and 13.2 per cent non-residential, a shift of about 0.6 percentage points over the previous tax year.

Mayor Nolan Crouse recently shared a chart showing the history of the split going all the way back to 1999, when the split was 87.8-12.2 per cent.

The split hovered around similar numbers, finally peaking at about 91 per cent residential in 2008.

The chart shows 86.8 per cent is the lowest the residential portion of the assessment base has been during that time.

“I think the trend will just continue,” Crouse said, adding he’s hopeful over the next decade St. Albert will get closer to its goal of an 80-20 split.

“It can go up and down a little bit but if you’ve seen the last five years, it’s heading in the right direction,” he said.

The reason a greater amount of non-residential tax base is desired is to help keep residential taxes in check. Crouse pointed out that St. Albert is “branded” as having high taxes.

“The best way to deal with high taxes is to get non-residential tax revenue,” he said.

Recent developments like Costco have helped St. Albert’s taxes already, Crouse said.

“When you get that extra tax revenue you can keep your residential tax rate under check, so we were able to get one per cent,” he said.

“Now some people are going to say, well we did that because we got more efficient or we cut costs or we did all these kinds of things or council flogged administration, but in reality the best way to get that residential tax rate more competitive in Alberta is to get non-residential development.”

The council and city staff have done plenty to help encourage non-residential growth, he said, noting they’re trying to fill up the Riel and Campbell business parks, become more business friendly, recruit developers and nurture willing landowners.

“We worked hard on the AGLC casino land sale,” he said, noting that getting the Walmart development a few years ago involved hard work as well.

“What’s going to happen 10 years from now is people are going to look back and say we’re sure glad that council 20 years ago put a lot of emphasis on this,” he said.

Greg Dahlen, director of assessment and taxation services, flagged council to the positive tax split movement during his presentation at the May 5 council meeting.

While residential development continues to be dominant, he noted that $61.5 million of the $290 million in new assessment growth in 2013 was from non-residential development.

“Although residential is dominant, non-residential as a percentage of its own base was actually higher,” Dahlen said.

The change in the split between residential and non-residential is due to that growth and market value changes, he said.

“Movement in this direction is something that St. Albert seeks,” Dahlen told council, “so this is good news for the city.”


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