Councilors present final version of property taxes as budget passes


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Cochrane’s budget for next year was passed 5-2 by city council on December 13.

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The annual increase in property tax rates often occupies more discussion of the public budget than it perhaps should, given all the other elements on both sides of the balance sheet. However, it’s hard not to take note of this year’s figure: a 10% increase.

That’s a monthly supplement of $ 18.75 for an average single-family home, valued this year at $ 455,900.

In recent years, city councilors have voted to keep tax rate increases lower than the administration’s recommendation (and zero in 2021), citing first the ongoing struggles in the regional economy and then the effects of COVID-19. However, with rising inflation, dwindling municipal reserves, and municipal services to be performed, a majority of council agreed with the finance department that they should take a different path.

“It’s not a place we want to be, but at least we have to be and have to be right now,” said Mayor Jeff Genung.

Councilor Alex Reed that although the situation is unfortunate, he believes the Cochranites are getting a good return on their municipal taxes.

“Considering all the costs that we all incur and everyone else in the world, the city has similar costs to my household and they need to be addressed,” he said.

“No one is happy with a tax increase, especially after four years of little or no tax increase, but the reality is that with current and future operations, we just can’t live on. the growth. It is simply not sustainable.

Councilor Tara McFadden said this budget should prepare the city well for rapid and continued growth.

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“No one is ever happy with an increase, whether it’s the tax rate or whatever, but (…) we have to pay our bills and one of the truths about that is that Cochrane is one of the places most enjoyable to live, work and play, not only in Alberta, but in the country, ”she said.

“And it will continue, we see it continuing, and we have to make sure that we have the administration, the tools and the resources.”

Councilor Susan Flowers shares the same sentiment.

“I believe we have come to where we need to be, even though no one likes to raise taxes,” she said.

“This budget corrects some of our past mistakes. It helps us catch up. And that prepares us for the future.

“It just can’t happen without the resources and I think we finally believe it and understand it. “

Councilor Morgan Nagel usually expresses some of the more modest sentiments of the government in the chambers.

“I would like to vote against this ten percent tax increase, but I will not,” he said.

“This is unique to me: it is not a new standard for how I will vote financially. (…) This is the year for the administration to catch up and take care of the unique, but in twelve months you can expect that I will no longer vote in favor of something like that.

“This large percentage increase now reflects a kind of return to ‘normal’ if you were to graph it and look at it on a line graph.”

Councilors Marni Fedeyko and Patrick Wilson voted for two “nays”, which generally do not vote on the same side on the points which divide.

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“I will be voting against myself, too, preferring to see a six percent increase this year,” Wilson said.

Fedeyko added: “I am not against a tax increase, I just am not in favor of the way it has been presented.”

“Ten percent on top of the recent announcements of increases in costs and food, utilities and everything in between, (…) that increase doesn’t have to be felt all at once.”

The adopted budget was largely in line with one of the four options presented by council.

“The administration, as always, remains keenly aware of the responsibility that comes with every budget, and in particular a budget of this nature for which there has been a demand for significant resources to be added to the organization,” said the director. General Mike Derricott at the press conference. Encounter.

“We will continue to work diligently to ensure that residents of our community see the value that comes from the resources they contribute to the community.”

More information is available at Cochrane.ca/Budget.

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