Municipal Property Taxes Expected to Decrease in Vegreville
Homeowners and business owners in Vegreville can expect to see a reduction in property taxes next year.
Members of town council met with senior administration on December 1 to review the proposed 2021 operating budget which is contained in its draft three-year operating plan. They also reviewed its draft five-year capital plan.
Corporate Services Director Paul Casey said there will be a two percent reduction in residential property taxes and a one percent reduction in business taxes in 2021. He did point out, however, that those estimates will not be finalized until February.
Mayor MacPhee said they had done a good job of lowering non-residential taxes. He stated, “We didn’t even raise taxes one percent last year.” Casey confirmed there was a zero percent increase in 2020 and a one percent increase the year before because of the cost of living adjustment to employees.
MacPhee did point out that, “By lowering non-residential taxes it lowers the amount of money in reserves. And that is what the priority has been in my mind.
We have reserves and whatever we do with them we better be understanding that for the next few years there’s not going to be a lot of money going back into reserves. What we’ve done as a council, and what we’ve taken out of operating, I’m sure it’s over a million dollars since this council has started.
There’s not going to be much opportunity in the next couple of years, no matter what council sets here to put money into that reserve because we’ve got it down pretty bare right now where we’re operating at. So there’s not going to be opportunities for other councils to be putting away money and having surpluses; not at the standard that the citizens of this town like their services to be delivered.”
According to the draft three-year operating plan, “Salaries and wages are budgeted with a zero percent Cost of Living Allowance, (COLA) for 2021, 2022, and 2023. However, the 2022 and 2023 COLA may be subject to adjustment depending on economic circumstances at the time of preparing the final operating budgets for those years.
Council has approved a two percent decrease in tax revenues collected by the Town in 2021.”
In addition, council has approved $22,000 in funding for the Vegreville Transportation Services Society, $15,000 in funding to Prairie Tails Animal Rescue Society, and $200,000 to the Vegreville Centennial Library.
Proposed capital purchases include: the purchase of CCTV Cameras, ($30,000), gravel cone bucket attachment, ($8,000), tandem gravel truck, ($155,000), two half-ton trucks, ($92,000), and fencing for dog-off lease area, ($10,000).
Other proposed capital purchases include: development of the northeast walking trail loop, ($196,505), two new playgrounds, ($120,000), front mower-discharge ($30,000), dual axle trailer, ($7,500), and dog off leash area fencing, ($10,000).
A total of $200,000 has been budgeted for new highway signage along Highway 16 to the east and west of the community. The original idea was to have a message board sign, but that was nixed by council, that is in favour of a regular sign that will be illuminated at night.
Community Services Director Phil Rowe was instructed to put out the tender for the signs which are expected to come in at a much lower price than the message board signs that were initially discussed.
Capital works Projects include:
- SE 17 Industrial Park Development which is budgeted for $9.9 million. The only portion of the money that will come directly from the town on that project is $1.65 million with the remainder of the funds coming from the federal and provincial governments.
- Overlay and concrete works 50 Street from 48 Avenue to 52 Avenue which is budgeted for $565,000.
- Road reconstruction, valve refurbish, and concrete works 45 Avenue from 48 Street to 49 Street which is budgeted for $485,000.
MacPhee said they stayed the course and stayed on track to keep taxes low. “We’ve achieved it and this budget represents a lot of really good work.” Councillor Dave Berry said a lot of credit should go to administration as well.
The budget will be brought forward at the December 14 council meeting.