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Southern Alberta county has no tax increase, $9 million windfall

Rocky View County has $9 million more than expected so they dropped a 3 per cent tax increase.
Rocky View County council reviewed and approved a service plan to address the 2016 audit.

Rocky View County (RVC) council, at its April 9 meeting, approved adjustments to the County’s 2024 budget– including a reduction in a previously approved tax increase from three per cent to zero. 

As part of the spring finalization process for the 2024 Operating and Capital base budget, which was originally approved by council in November, County administration identified various operating adjustments that could be made to the budget to, “better align the County’s service delivery and strategic direction.”

In the report brought to council by County administration, it is stated that, “as part of the budget process, administration used an estimation of live growth from Assessment Services to increase tax revenue. The live growth component is essentially new property tax on new development growth within the County.”

So, when Council approved the 2024 Operating and Capital base budget back in November the estimated new tax revenue from live growth was $2,000,000. However, when the 2024 assessment roll was completed, the live growth component totalled $11,206,900. According to the council report, this resulted in an increase of $9,206,900 in additional new tax dollars for the County.  

Because of the unexpected abundance in tax dollars, council approved an operating budget adjustment to reduce the estimated tax increase from three per cent to zero per cent, by a vote of 6-1. Division 1 Coun. Kevin Hanson was the only councillor who opposed the tax reduction. 

 “The [three per cent] is for tax stabilization,” Hanson explained to his fellow councillors. “When it gets to six or seven in the coming years, if that does, you have the ability to go three per cent…which is a nice stable number.”

Speaking in support of the zero per cent tax increase, Division 3 Coun. and Reeve Crystal Kissel said in these financially difficult times taxpayers need the help.

“People are struggling,” Kissel said. “We need to care about the people who pay these bills. When you have this excess money, you have to give back, and this is how you give back.” 

However, when it came to the three per cent increase to the water and wastewater utility rate, the majority of council voted to approve the motion. Division 2 Coun. and Deputy Reeve Don Kochan wanted to decrease the utility rate from three down to zero, echoing arguments that would be made about the general tax rate previously approved by council. 

“I think it’s wise if we don’t burden our taxpayers more with a three per cent increase,” said Division 2 Coun. and Deputy Reeve Don Kochan. “I’m suggesting we support a zero per cent increase.” 

Kochan lacked the same support that Kissel got for the previous tax motion. Instead, Kochan’s motion was shot down by the rest of council.

“At Rocky View, we move forward in growth quicker than we deal with growth,” said Division 4 Coun. Samanntha Wright. “My concern is we cannot afford to go backwards.”

Wright then added that a decrease to a utility rate tax did not seem feasible if they wanted to recover operating costs. 

Aside from the discussion on taxes and rate increases, council also approved several budget adjustments for various revenue and expense items, and provided County administration with direction on several follow up items.  Among those, council also voted unanimously to place a RVC Fire Service Platoon Captain pilot program on hold until the 2024 Fire Master Plan is presented to Council. Administration has to bring back a report before June that specifies what the impacts of increasing the County-paid portion of employee benefits to 100 per cent would have on staff retention.


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