Small increase to county taxes for 2017
Camrose County approved a small increase to property takes in the county on April 11. The owner of a $300,000 property will see on average an increase of $47 on their annual tax bill. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
County residents will have a two per cent increase to their tax rate this year.
Camrose County council officially approved their 2017 budget at their council meeting on
April 11, for an owner of a $300,000 property, this means an increase of $47. The budget was originally passed as an interim budget on Dec. 13, and aside from a few clerical changes as numbers became finalized, there were no major changes.
The County will have an operating budget of $26,419,073 with $13,010,004 funded through operating revenue and $13,409,07 through the 2017 Tax Levy. The County will also have a Capital Projects budget of $9,608,169 with $8,792,069 covered through total revenue and $1,034,300 through the 2017 tax levy (capital and projects).
County Reeve Don Gregorwich said he was pleased with the work that the administration staff and the councilors did to keep the tax increase to a minimum with no excess spending.
“We considered the two per cent the absolute maximum that we’d want to pass and were very cognizant that it’s a challenging time for a lot of people,” he said. “For our agricultural community, our producers are staring at crop impact on them and at the same time a lot of our residential people obviously are taking a look at personal expenses that are changing because of the carbon levy. We need to supply the services and at the same time we need to balance the budget and correspondingly try to make as little pain as possible for our tax payers.”
Gregorwich says the carbon tax is projected to cost the County $200,000 this year.
The biggest project originally slated to be started this year was the $3.4 million highway project of Township Road 480 from Highway 834 to Range Road 201 has been delayed for a year due to recently introduced environmental policy that requires the project to undergo further evaluation to ensure there is no damage to nearby wetlands. It was a hotly discussed issue in council in February, and despite talks with the environment ministers office, there has been no change to the situation. There is also a backlog of these projects now, province wide.
“They’re understaffed at Alberta Environment and they’re covering a very large area so they just can’t get to us quicker, they’re looking at a year turnaround for those permits so that slows everything down,” said Camrose County Corporate Services Manager Teresa Gratrix. “We will have to back up (our future planning) and that makes it difficult because a lot of the pricing and that kind of thing that you deal with, you just can’t be as responsive to changes in the plans because you’re two years out instead of just one year.”
One major project that will get underway as soon as the weather allows it is the rehabilitation of the New Norway Lagoon with a price tag of $1.83 million, though it will all be covered through grants. Currently they have $457,000 of MSI Capital funding ear-marked for the project while also waiting on other provincial grants to come through.
“When New Norway became part of the county three or four years ago, at that time Alberta Environment told us we needed to fix the lagoon, so it’s important now that we finally get around to it,” said Gregorwich.
One major infrastructure concern for the county moving forward is the state of their bridges. The county has 132 bridges in the region and the vast majority of them are in need of repair or replacement as their lifespan nears its limit. This year there are three bridges in the county that will be fixed or replaced, at a total cost of $713,470, but there are many more nearing that same point. It is an issue many counties in the province face with little or no provincial funding in place for the work, the entire bill has fallen to the counties.
“The fact of the matter is, without provincial assistance, we are really hamstrung as to how we could ever afford to improve or replace the number of bridges that we have,” said Gregorwich.
“These roads that the bridges are on are public roads and they carry industry, they carry traffic, so they’re a provincial responsibility even though they are a county road. It’s real important to have provincial money go towards supporting rural infrastructure and bridges are a part of that.”
Also in the capital budget are a number of maintenance projects throughout the county which has a population of 8,458, up from 8,005 during the previous federal census.