• Advertisement

  • Remember that promise the provincial government made not to raise taxes?

    Remember that promise the provincial government made not to raise taxes?  Well, they just broke it.  Not in the form of a provincial sales tax, but make no mistake, our taxes are going up and we have the PC government to thank for it.
    You see the government is in a bind and everybody knows it.  They spend way more money than they take in.  Now we all know that’s bad practice, and so do they, but they can’t help themselves.  So, they’ve come up with a clever way to reach into your pocket and take more money out ….substantially more money.
    They’ve done so by increasing the amount of money they have municipalities collect in property taxes.  Here’s how it works.
    There’s been a formula in place for more than a decade in Alberta that recognizes fast growing communities like Chestermere and Fort McMurray are in a tough situation.  You see people move to these areas in record numbers and with the growth comes an immense burden on the municipality.
    Now once upon a time the provincial government realized that all these newcomers were contributing to the Alberta economy and maybe, just maybe, it had an obligation to help them out to keep property taxes from skyrocketing.
    That was then, this is now as the Premier likes to say.
    Sort of like her quote on debt before the election:
    “Alberta does not have debt and we will not incur debt.  That is fundamental of what Albertans are proud of and we are committed to make sure that continues.”
    That was a timely thing to say during an election campaign, but of course we know that’s all changed. 
    Yes, that was then, this is now, but I digress.
    Back to our giant PC gift, the 53% tax increase.
    So, a few government types (and trust me there are a lot of them) get together and come up with a plan.
    Do you realize they say, that if we cancel that old property tax mitigation program we can rake in millions of dollars and put it toward our bottom line.
    Really?  Yes, really. 
    For perspective, executives in Fort McMurray tell me it will mean an additional 16 million dollars coming from the hard working people of their community in one year.
    Here in Chestermere, the overall number is smaller, but on a per capita basis, the increase is higher.
    By changing the way the education portion of your property taxes are collected, we will be looking at a 53% increase.
    Now the education portion of your property tax is just under a third of the total tax. So, here’s a round number example for you. If you pay $3000.00 in property taxes, roughly a third, or $1000.00 would be the education portion.  That’s the portion that municipalities collect for the province, and that’s the portion that’s going up.  So, using those numbers, a 53% increase means roughly $500.00 extra on next year.
    I’ve talked with Mayor Matthews about this several times.  She’s upset, and she has a right to be.  The town estimates that the average family will wind up paying an additional $400.00 a year now in taxes.
    I’m concerned that for many families this will be tough to manage.
    Again, just to be crystal clear, this is a change made by the provincial PC government and it affects the education portion of our property taxes.
    Making this even more frustrating is the fact that it has literally happened without warning.  I have been pushing the minister of municipal affairs to be reasonable.  If they insist on this formula change, they should at least give municipalities the flexibility to phase the increase in.  That’s what they say they are doing, but that’s not what our council is being told.  Bottom line is, the province just isn’t listening.
    In fact, I think it’s safe to say that government not listening is becoming a bit of a theme in Alberta.  You have to wonder if the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.
    In this case I think they do.  You see both the right hand and left hand of the PC government are reaching into our pockets.
    A tax is a tax is a tax.