St. Albertans are paying some of the highest property tax rates in the province, according to a new report, but city officials say the numbers don’t paint a complete picture.
An online real estate listing company, Zoocasa, released a report on Tuesday that showed St. Albert finishing with the third-highest property tax rates in the province, behind only Grande Prairie and Lethbridge.
City manager Kevin Scoble, acknowledged that while property taxes are a little higher, the city continues to perform really well.
“We are below average for expenditures per capita. Our debt is the third-lowest debt per capita in the province ... We are not comparable to most communities in Alberta with the tax split,” Scoble said.
In St. Albert, the property tax rate is 1.05199 per cent, which means that residents with homes at a value of $250,000 pay $2,630 annually and homes with a value of $500,000 have a property tax of $5,260.
In Fort McMurray, the property tax rate sits at 0.47454 per cent. Homes assessed at a value of $250,000 have a property tax of $1,186 per year and homes worth $500,000 will cost the owner $2,373 annually in property taxes.
St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron said it's not fair to compare St. Albert to Fort McMurray because the latter has such a large commercial and industrial tax base.
In an effort to shift some of the tax burden away from residents, St. Albert has been working toward an 80 per cent residential and 20 per cent non-residential tax assessment split. Right now the city sits around 85/15, and continues to move towards a goal of 80/20, mandated by the Municipal Development Plan (MDP).
Although the tax assessment split is important, Heron suggested she'd like it taken out of the MDP.
“I think we should just say we want to provide the best services for the best costs and be competitive for businesses,” Heron said.
According to city data going back to 1971, the assessment split has slowly been moving closer to the 80/20 goal.
In 1971 the city had a 93/7 assessment split, with residential properties carrying to bulk of the burden. In 2000 the assessment split was 88/12 and by 2016 the split sat at 86/14.
Highest to lowest property tax rates
- Grande Prairie
- St. Albert
- Red Deer
- Medicine Hat
- High River
- Sylvan Lake
- Stony Plain
- Spruce Grove
- Fort Saskatchewan
- Cold Lake
- Fort McMurray