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Tag: Meghan Dobie

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Budget amendment slightly raises MD of Pincher Creek taxes

Council for the MD of Pincher Creek has passed a slight property tax increase through an amendment to this year’s budget.  

The amendment, passed April 11, adds about $185,000 in taxes to the roughly $13.4 million in municipal revenue approved by council when it passed the 2023 budget last fall, an increase of just under 1.4 per cent, according to finance director Meghan Dobie. 

Most of the extra revenue will go toward a $250,000 transfer to the MD’s Regional Community Initiative Reserve, a store of money set aside for capital projects and services MD residents access in the MD and town of Pincher Creek, Cowley and Crowsnest Pass, Dobie explained. 

Just over $57,800 of the extra taxes will supplement the MD’s contribution to recreation services at the town’s Multi-Purpose Facility at 895 Main St. The MD pays for one-third of those costs every year, according to the current agreement between town and MD councils. 

The tax bump pales against the roughly 13 per cent year-over-year rise in assessed residential property values across the MD. The assessed values of non-residential properties meanwhile swelled by around $125 million, a roughly 7.5 per cent increase over 2022. Both increases were driven overwhelmingly by inflation, Dobie said. 

Property assessments determine a municipality’s maximum allowable tax base, but elected councils decide the rate at which residents and business owners pay municipal taxes each year. MD council dropped this year’s residential property tax rate by about nine per cent, while rates for farmland remained essentially unchanged. 

The impact on individual taxpayers will depend on the class of properties they own, their assessed property values, and the property tax rates applied to those values. 

Municipal budgets, also decided by councils, reflect the amount of taxes needed to maintain or increase service levels, pay down debt and put cash into reserve accounts, according to Municipal Government Act regulations. 

This year’s tax increase is offset by initial cost projections for the Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission that came in roughly $166,500 above what the commission actually needs from the MD this year. 

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MD of Pincher Creek provides Covid relief funding

“You never count your money,” sang Kenny Rogers, “when you’re sitting at the table. There’ll be time enough for countin,’ when the dealin’s done.”

As it turns out, council for the MD of Pincher Creek was able to deal out some much-needed help to local organizations after gathering restrictions affected normal operations last year.

The provincial and federal governments helped provide funding to municipalities through the Municipal Operating Support Transfer, which saw the MD receive $305,233.

Under half of that amount will be used by the MD to make up for lost tax revenue in 2020; $50,000 of that portion was used to cover additional work-from-home expenses for MD staff, which included upgrading the IT system to improve software speed.

 

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Ironically, the MD’s system provider has been slow in making the upgrade to faster software and cannot guarantee the change will occur before March 31, which is when all of the MOST funding must be spent.

Upgrading the system, said director of finance Meghan Dobie, remains a priority despite the hiccup. “It is something administration still wants to do to help improve the speed at which our IT software is working.”

Rather than gambling on missing the deadline, council followed the finance department’s advice and approved using $6,700 from the tax rate stabilization reserve during its Feb. 23 regular meeting.

Council also approved distribution of the remaining MOST funds — a total of $171,390.72 — to community organizations that experienced financial difficulties due to the pandemic.

 

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Twenty-six groups petitioned the MD for financial assistance, which totalled $431,000 in requested funds. While unable to meet the requested amount, the MD was able to deal out donations to 19 of those groups.

Some of the more significant contributions include $10,000 to Chinook Lanes, $20,000 to the Family Resource Centre, $11,400 to the Livingstone Ski Academy Society and $21,434.50 to the Pincher Creek and District Chamber of Commerce.

A full list of organizations approved for MOST funding can be found in ad on page 5 and on the MD’s website at https://bit.ly/MD_MOST.