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Council maintaining tax rate ratio between business and residential

Jasper Municipal Council will maintain the tax rate ratio between residential and non-residential for 2024.

Jasper Municipal Council has opted to maintain the tax rate ratio between residential and non-residential for 2024 during its Tuesday meeting.

Council also gave first and second reading to its 2024 tax rate bylaw, with third and final reading expected within the coming weeks.

Administration presented two versions of the bylaw to council.

One maintained the current tax rate ratio of 5:1:0.583 (non-residential to residential to Lake Edith) and another had a new ratio of 4.5:1:0.583.

Under the current ratio, the municipality would requisition $2,781,641 from residential and $8,301,056 from non-residential.

Under the proposed ratio, the municipality would requisition $3,005,472 from residential and $8,077,225 from non-residential.

If the proposed ratio were adopted, residential property assessed at $800,000 would pay $164 more than if the current ratio were maintained.

Meanwhile, a commercial property assessed at $10 million would pay $3,536 less.

Council previously moved from a 5.1:1 ratio to 5:1 in 2021, partly to comply with new requirements under the Municipal Government Act but also because of lobbying from the business community.

This year, council has ultimately decided to maintain the current tax rate ratio as more consultation still needed to be done with taxpayers of all stripes.

Coun. Ralph Melnyk initially said he was willing to consider adopting the new ratio but later moved to keep the old one.

He added how he was grateful that administration prepared two versions of the bylaw and provided the mill rate information so businesses and residents could better compare the potential effects of each ratio.

“I think this was a very productive exercise in moving us along, and it would show each of the commercial properties and each of the residential properties, based on their actual assessment, what their potential taxes could have been or could be this year.”

Coun. Rico Damota said council had been in the public forum discussing the tax rate ratio but had not received much feedback.

“In being responsible to the community, staying status quo for the moment is probably a good thing to do,” Damota said.

“But I think the better thing to do is engage with other stakeholders in the community to come up with a better idea of what's actually going on out there and the temperature and how people are being affected because every business, every commercial building and every property is different.”

Coun. Helen Kelleher-Empey emphasized the need to have a workshop and seriously consider adjusting the ratio for 2025.

“If we’re just going to keep it status quo, we can't leave it until the last minute every year,” Kelleher-Empey said.

Mayor Richard Ireland favoured keeping the current ratio, saying he wanted to avoid rushing the process and that it was a complex issue.

He also wanted any adjustment to be based on principles.

“One of my concerns is that 4.5, although it gives a basis for comparison, it is an absolutely arbitrary number,” Ireland said.

“Administration said, ‘Okay, we'll give you another a number that’s different than five,’ but we don't have principles to support why it should 4.5 and not five, or 4.6 or 4.7 or anything else, but it does offer findings and comparisons at a global level.”

More details about each ratio can be found in council’s agenda.

Breaking down taxation

In the 2024 budget, the total tax-funded budget equates to $29,059,376 with $11,289,762 of this amount coming from municipal taxes.

The amount was reduced by $207,064.46 in over levies collected in prior years to around $11 million.

The remaining 61 per cent of municipal expenses are recovered through grants and user fees.

Of the $11,289,762 that the municipality collects, $746,386 will be for land rent to the federal government and $379,080 will go to the provincial government for policing.

Together, these two payments equal around 10 per cent of municipal taxes.

The Municipality of Jasper will also requisition $5,768,534 for the Alberta School Foundation Fund (ASFF), $5,398 for Designated Industrial Property (DIP) and $1,015,830 for the Evergreens Foundation Senior Housing.

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