By Trevor Busch
Westwind Weekly News
At their May 5 meeting, Raymond council passed first reading of Bylaw 1086-20, which is the 2020 Tax Rate Bylaw, which reflects a mill rate increase of 8.3 per cent over 2019’s rate.
According to administration, the increase is due to three provincial government decisions:
Provincial Enhanced Policing Costs: the province has added $57,891.75 to the Town’s budget in 2020 to help fund their rural crime prevention strategy. This amount will be increased to $115,866 in 2021, $154,378 in 2022 and $231,733 in 2023. This funding will be used to pay for added RCMP officers and support staff throughout rural Alberta and not necessarily based within the Raymond/Magrath detachment.
Reduction in Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) Operating Grant: the Town was informed in April 2020 that its MSI Operating grant would be reduced by $165,000 due to growth in the municipal assessment base.
Provincial Education Tax Requisition Increase: the province is collecting approximately $60,000 more from the Town in 2020 than was collected in 2019 to pay for K-12 Education expenses in the province.
“Before these costs were downloaded to the town, council had worked very hard to carry the 2019 tax rate into 2020,” reads a statement as part of a release on the town’s website. “Collectively, they reduced our operating expenses by approximately $750,000.”
Council is accepting feedback on the bylaw until May 18, at which time it will be brought to council for second and third reading. Residents are being asked to submit feedback to Kurtis Pratt, Chief Administrative Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2019 Southern Alberta Municipal Service Rate Survey compares total tax & utility expenses for 45 communities Calgary south that the municipality tracks and compares annually to monitor the costs of services when compared to regional neighbours.
Since 2006, council’s focus has been to have a competitive average, which was to be ranked between 20-27 out of 45 communities. In 2019, the town was 26th on the list.