It is that time of year again, Tax Time. At Rocky View County the way it works is that every department submits a budget for what they are going to need to spend during the next year.
Two things make up the tax rate, first the base budget which is what it costs to keep the lights on type of budget. For the many departments it includes paying the salaries, paying the overhead like electricity, gas, fuel, maintenance, leases, licensing, things like that.
When you have a County of around 1,000,000 acres it is substantial, there are over 250 employees, 2,500 kms of roads, many fire departments, many enforcement people, planners, building inspectors, tax assessors, accounting people, recreation, lands, engineering departments, the list goes on. The base budget was approved in December, it contemplates no tax increase for Rocky View County. There is also no cut in services and not much change in the way the County runs. When you consider that there is no cuts and no increase it doesn’t necessarily mean that there wasn’t any increased spending, the carbon tax is probably costing the County around $500 thousand in increases and the Consumer Price Index for 2016 was around two percent so there is about a million dollars more in costs. How do we cover this?
Increased assessment give the ability to bring in more in taxes than the previous year, as the County attracts more business, it gets more taxes. Generally speaking the residential tax base is a break even at best but the commercial or non-res brings in three times as much as the residential, it creates a healthy and sustainable Municipal Government.
We in Langdon are part of the County, we don’t have an administration to cover, we don’t have a Council, I am all we have for a Council expense, we are a part of a bigger entity, Rocky View County. The total assessed value last year of all of the property in Langdon was about 760 million dollars. The mill rate, which is the rate that is charged of the assessment, was 2.442. That raises about 1.85 million dollars from Langdon property assessment to pay into the County. When you consider that around $140 million is spent every year and we are about 10% of the County population, we get quite a good deal at about 1.5% of the budget. The average town of the size of Langdon brings in around 4 million in taxes in Alberta. We also pay into a fund for recreation that is accessible only by Langdon groups, that assessment is 1.101 of our values, it raises about $88,500 every year for local rec projects, this year I am going to try to get agreement to make it a fixed rate of $1 per thousand of assessed value so that it continues to grow as Langdon grows, recreation is important and a fund is necessary.
The assessments were sent out about a month ago, that is the value that the assessment department puts on your property, it is a valuation as of July 31 of last year. If you think it is unfair or inaccurate, the assessment department has what they call an open house up until the end of March. You can reach them by calling the County at 403-230-1401. After March 31 if you still believe that your assessment is wrong you can make application to the Assessment Review Board, there is a $50 application fee for ordinary residential properties and you can plead your case to the Board, there are no assessors on that Board and they have the ability to overturn the assessment departments valuation of your property if you can convince them.
The last thing that happens is the final spring adjustment and setting of the tax rate by Bylaw. Council will be doing that in about April so the County can send out the tax bill in May. Taxes are due on June 30th and if the County does not have the payment by that date there is a 12% penalty. The good news is that you don’t have to pay a penalty… just be on time. I will be taking the position of having no tax increase, I don’t think it is necessary. Last year I was successful in that quest, wish me luck!