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taxes

Did Taxes Go Down? And How Do Taxes Get Set?

Did Taxes Go Down? And How Do Taxes Get Set?

in 2019, Council’s budget delivered a 4.1% decrease to an average residential property.

However, there is a problem with averages: most people fall above or below them.

I heard from a number of people who were grateful to see their tax bills go down. But Council also heard from a number of people who said something like “my taxes didn’t go down- what the heck!?”

To help ourselves and the community get a better picture of what happened with tax changes, Council asked for more information about how many properties received increases and decreases. This report was received on Tuesday. You can read it here.

Following is some of the information Council received about the changes in tax bills. I’m also including information about how your tax bill gets set.

Paying for Stormwater Systems

Paying for Stormwater Systems

One important service the City provides is a storm water system.

This is also an expensive service to deliver: in 2018, the City spent $6,325,000 on projects associated with storm drainage.

Currently, this work is primarily financed through tax revenue. However, Council is exploring moving towards a utility model for storm water. Under this model, property taxes would no longer go towards paying for drainage systems. This would lead to a tax reduction. However, property owners would receive a separate storm water utility bill….

I have no idea if I will ultimately support this change. However, I am looking forward to more information. A utility model for financing the storm system deserves consideration. It has a few potential benefits, the largest one being that it would likely deliver City tax payers a net financial savings.

Below is a bit more information about this idea and some potential benefits I see.

Are taxes really going down?

Are taxes really going down?

I’ve had a few people over the past week say something like “my taxes went up, I thought they were going down, what’s up with that!?”

So to be clear: the tax rate for 2019 has not been set yet. But we are still projecting that the municipal portion of property taxes owed by an average property will go down. The target reduction is 4.1%. This target was set in November and I am not aware of anyone from the City thinking it should change.

So then, what is going on here? Why are people’s taxes apparently going up?

People I’m talking to are seeing their assessments and/or monthly Tax Installment Payment Plan (TIPP) payments going up. However, these going up does not necessarily mean that someone will be paying more in 2019 than they did in 2018.

Below is some information about why we do taxes the way we do. After that I explain why assessments and TIPP payments don’t tell the full story.

Budget 2019: Revenue and Cashflow

Budget 2019: Revenue and Cashflow

Often the central conversations about municipal budgets revolve around residential property rates. I’d suggest that we should have a much larger conversation about the budget.

In 2018, residential properties only accounted for a little over 50% of the total tax levies in Grande Prairie. They funded about 25% of the total capital and operating budgets. While it is very important for Council to be aware of residential tax rates, there are many other sources of revenue and factors which effect cash flow. All of these need to be considered when creating the budget.

Taxes

Taxes

I hear from a lot of people that they are concerned about taxes. I am too- I have a young family and I own a house, so taxes certainly affect me. I’ve also spent my entire career learning the responsibility that comes with being trusted to administer others’ resources. If elected, making sure that taxes are reasonable and return good value would be one of my top priorities.

Throughout this post I will explain the thought processes I would use when considering spending decisions. I hope I will be one of the people you decide to trust with your tax dollars. I want to be part of a Council which works hard towards no tax increases.