Province helps pare down property tax increase

Tyler Clarke
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Mayor Greg Dionne votes in favour of this year’s mill rate increase, which will see property owners pay 2.5 per cent more on the bottom line of their property tax bill than they did last year. 

Capping off the numbers game on Monday, the city’s elected officials have set the 2014 tax policy in stone at a 4.5 per cent mill rate increase from last year.

“It’s overall an increase to the municipal revenues of 3.8 per cent, but most people are going to be mostly interested that on the bottom line of their tax bill it’s about (a) 2.5 per cent (increase over last year),” city finance director Joe Day said.

The Sask. Party’s decision to keep the education mill rate unchanged from last year helped bring the bottom line increase in lower than the 4.5 per cent increase city council brought to the table, Day explained.

In addition to a mill rate increase of 4.5 per cent, the library mill rate has increased by 2.7 per cent.

Although it’s been re-named, the snow management and infrastructure base tax remained unchanged from last year, at $60 for residential properties and a higher varying rate for commercial properties.

Last year’s $189 municipal roadways base tax remains in place, which is also levied at a higher varying rate against commercial properties.

The Pineview Terrace Lodge levy remains $27 for residential property owners, with commercial property owners paying a higher, varying rate.

The Alfred Jenkins Field House capital project contribution is still based on a mill rate, which equates a cost of about $74 for the average assessed residential property of $238,000. Commercial property owners pay a higher mill rate.

Monday’s finalization of the 2014 budget process came quickly and without discussion from the city’s elected officials, after debating the issue for months.

“I’m very pleased because now council can get on to the business of running the city,” Mayor Greg Dionne said after the meeting.

It’s overall an increase to the municipal revenues of 3.8 per cent, but most people are going to be mostly interested that on the bottom line of their tax bill it’s about (a) 2.5 per cent (increase over last year). Joe Day

During a recorded vote on Monday, Couns. Lee Atkinson and Charlene Miller voted against a bylaw charged with setting taxation in accordance with the 2014 budget.

Although both councillors voted in favour of the 2014 budget, they believed that greater reliance on mill rates should be used in taxing the public and that the base tax component of taxation be pared down.  

Mill rates are levied against properties’ assessed value while base taxes are flat rates everyone pays regardless of property value.

Greater reliance on base taxes spread taxation more evenly, regardless of value, while greater reliance on mill rates levy taxes more heavily against properties of greater assessed values than those of a lower value.

In a battle of ideologies that guide councillors to determine which is the fairest means of taxation, Miller and Atkinson were the only two on council to side with the need for a greater reliance on mill rates -- a stance they’ve long-held.

Although the city’s elected officials have finalized the 2014 budget and property tax bylaws, they still have the utility budget to contend with.

At Monday’s executive committee meeting, the city’s elected officials tentatively approved the 2014 water utility operating and capital budget, which is based on a utility bill increase of 9.2 per cent.

The utility bill will remain an item of discussion at subsequent city council meetings until council comes to a final decision.

Organizations: Sask. Party, Alfred Jenkins Field House

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