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Three-per-cent tax hike proposed for Morinville

Covers Leisure Centre, higher wages, storefront spruce-up
morinville town hall stk CC 5251

This story originally said that the owner of a typical commercial property worth about $1.5 million would see their taxes (not including utilities) rise about $1,600 or nine per cent under the proposed budget. This was based on the property tax revenue table in the first reading version of the budget, which erroneously transposed the values for commercial and industrial properties.
The typical commerical property is actually valued at $829,970 and would see an $886.05 tax hike or nine per cent under the budget. The $1.5 million/$1,600 figures apply to a typical industrial property.

A census, a council pay raise and a storefront spruce-up are all on the menu for this year’s Morinville budget, and it’ll cost taxpayers the equivalent of 180 doughnuts a year to pay for it.

Morinville council was set to vote on first reading for the 2020 budget Oct. 22 after this issue went to press.

The budget, approved as is, would see municipal taxes rise three per cent for residential lands and 12 per cent for nonresidential ones under a 1:1.2 split mill rate. It assumes a two-per-cent growth in property values and the education and Homeland Housing requisitions and a five-per-cent rise in utility rates.

For the owner of a typical $334,324 home, this budget would mean a $73.42 increase in municipal taxes, $71.71 more in utilities and $17.94 more in school and Homeland Housing payments, for a total tax and utility bill of about $4,989. That’s about $163 more than they would have paid last year – equivalent to about 15 dozen Tim Hortons doughnuts.

An owner of a typical commercial property worth about $829,970 would see their taxes (not including utilities) rise about $886.05 or nine per cent under the proposed budget.

Where the money goes

The higher taxes are meant to help pay for a roughly $1.4-million increase in the town’s operating costs.

About $1.1 million of that is related to staff and wages. The budget proposes hiring 4.5 new full-time staff, including a firefighter, an intergovernmental adviser and two more leisure centre workers, plus more casual staffers for the leisure centre.

In addition to cost-of-living and pay-grid-related increases, the budget assumes council will tweak administrative and council pay based on new pay policies that were also set for a vote Tuesday.

The new pay policies, if approved, would see staff and council pay set to the median rate of 12 Edmonton-area communities for staff and 10 comparable communities (including Cochrane, Whitecourt and Sturgeon County) for council.

Council received a report last summer indicating Morinville’s mayor was in the bottom 20 per cent pay-wise when compared to 10 similar communities, with councillors in the bottom 30 per cent.

The new council pay policy, if approved, would bump Mayor Barry Turner’s base pay up 29 per cent to $65,667 and the pay for town councillors up 37 per cent to $35,286 for this coming year. Total pay for town council was set to rise $86,617 under the proposed budget.

Besides higher salaries, the town faces a $411,000 rise in the cost to run the Morinville Leisure Centre simply because it’ll be in operation for a full year instead of seven months, the first draft of the budget shows.

Another new cost is a proposed $100,000 storefront improvement program – an idea raised earlier this year as part of the Coeur de Morinville implementation plan. This cost-share program would help business owners spruce up buildings along 100 St. and 100 Ave. to try to draw more development to the downtown core.

The budget features a $50,000 census – one administration predicts could draw some $163,500 more per year in grants to the town should it confirm Morinville’s population growth since 2016.

The budget includes the five-per-cent ($24,980) boost the town’s library requested at committee of the whole earlier this month. Council heard this cash would cover higher expenses, a cost-of-living wage hike, a boost to library board honorariums (as many board members were currently doing committee work for free), and a small library book self-checkout scanner.

The Morinville Historical Society gets a $1,000 boost in the budget to cover a cost-of-living wage hike for its sole employee at the town’s museum.

While the budget notes the town has managed to cut costs by about $343,000 across all departments, its tax-supported operating budget was still poised to go some $1.8 million into the red. The town would spend some 92 per cent of its operating reserves to compensate, leaving it with just $102,754.

Residents can weigh in on the budget at an open house at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre this Oct. 29 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. or by email at [email protected]. Second reading of the budget is scheduled for Nov. 12. Budget documents are available at

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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