Error leads to tax hike

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Taxes in High Prairie are rising.

Despite the scrimping and saving, and best efforts of council, a huge mistake in linear assessment last year is resulting in a tax increase of just over 11 per cent to businesses. The increase to homeowners is just under three per cent.

In both cases, the increases assume that property assessment is unchanged.

Unaware to council, a mistake occurred last year in ATCO’s linear assessment. ATCO owns the power lines in town and the Alberta government provides the assessment. The town then bills ATCO accordingly.

However, town council discovered too late that ATCO was billed based on $14 million last year.

“It should have been $2 million,” says town CAO Brian Martinson.

The error was first brought to light by interim treasurer Terri Wiebe at council’s April 26 meeting. The number was finalized during a meeting May 5.

Now, town council has to pay back the extra money collected from ATCO last year – about $220,000.

Council decided to not place the $220,000 burden on taxpayers, however. Instead, they will decrease contributions to road, water and sewer capital reserve accounts by about $160,000 and leave the remaining $60,000 to an increase in taxes.

The increase only affects the non-residential [business] customers, not home owners.

What it means is the consolidated residential tax rate rises to 12.6840 mills, up from last year’s rate of 12.3410 mills, or an increase of 2.86 per cent.

The consolidated non-residential rate rises to 19.5050 mills from 17.5415 mills, an increase of just over 11 per cent. Therefore if your tax bill was $5,000 last year, it will rise to $5,500 this year.

Wiebe says the tax rate for non-residential should have been around 20 mills last year if ATCO’s linear assessment was provided correctly by the Government of Alberta.

Therefore, it can be argued that non-residential customers got a break last year at 17.5415 mills when they should not have.

Share this post