City council is continuing to look at its options for country residential property taxation following a review by the city assessor earlier this month.
The report examined options in regards to taxation of country residential properties within city limits in order to close the gap between in-city properties and those located in area RMs.
Coun. Rick Orr noted that the review, which was received as information by council, originated in discussions with Cloverdale residents regarding taxation rates and the level of services they were receiving.
“They felt that they were paying the same amount of taxes as in the city without having the option of garbage pickup, sewer, water and the roads that the city residents enjoy in most of the city,” Orr said. “So they were wondering if we could look at becoming more competitive with the RMs.”
In his review, city assessor Terry Hegel concluded that the simplest way for council to close the taxation gap would be to create a “sub-class” of residential property with a lower mill rate than the general municipal residential mill rate.
In order to eliminate the resulting tax shortfall caused by the lower mill rate, the city would have to phase in any reduction over years and/or encourage the development of an estimated 41 additional country residential properties within the city limits.
“If you develop 41 more properties with an average assessed value of $580,000, you would be tax-neutral,” Hegel said.
Were council to create such a subclass for taxation, it would be the only city in Saskatchewan to do so.
But Mayor Greg Dionne noted that no other city in the province has such a wide jurisdiction in a country area.
We’re going to look at a phase-in period, but it’s too early to say until we get the final report. Mayor Greg Dionne
“No other city does country residential acreages, because they don’t have the land mass that we control from north of the river,” he said.
“That’s why we have that rare opportunity and … if we brought it in competitive with the RMs, it could be a great revenue stream for the city.”
For Dionne, the review provided council with a starting point to discuss changes to taxation policy.
“We now know to bring in a country residential rate north of the river to make it revenue-neutral so we’re not downloading taxes on the south -- because I would never agree to that – (and) that we need to obtain 41 new acreages,” Dionne said.
“So now we’ve tasked our development department to come up with a plan on how we could do that. It’s not going to be a hard plan when you consider we control the land all the way from the bridge to Weyerhaeuser.”
Going forward, the city will seek to determine how many acreages would be available north of the river.
Even if Prince Albert were to move to a country residential rate, the process would take place over a protracted period of perhaps two to three years, Dionne noted.
“We’re going to look at a phase-in period,” the mayor said. “But it’s too early to say until we get the final report.”