Penholders will see tax decrease this year

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PENHOLD – Despite a tough provincial budget many Penhold taxpayers will see an average decrease of between two and four per cent in tax rates this year.

“This council recognized the additional financial burden that the carbon levy put on everybody and we didn’t want to add to that burden,” said Dennis Cooper, the mayor of Penhold. “We planned very early to make sure that one more expense in the home was not going to be an increase in taxes.”

Details of the changes in tax rates came during a council meeting on April 10. Council approved the Taxation Bylaw for 2017.

Trish Willis, corporate services manager, made a presentation to council about the changes that were completed in light of the provincial budget brought down in March.

“With all the shuffling (of numbers) we managed for the most part, to balance the budget,” she said, noting details including $5.9 million in capital (expenditures) and just over $3.5 million in revenue from taxes this year.

Rick Binnendyk, chief administrative officer, confirmed what that meant for taxpayers.

“Even though the school assessment went up, we’ve adjusted the municipal side quite aggressively to have a decrease,” said Binnendyk. “Even with the school requisition coming in you’re still looking at anywhere from a two to four per cent decrease on the total tax bill.”

Binnendyk also noted the $1.5 million the town is borrowing for projects and some of the changes to the water budget and transportation budget, where they made adjustments. As well, he noted the town pulled money from reserves and bids for projects (tenders) came in lower than estimated.

Cooper noted some of the long-term strategic planning the town and council is focusing on including road improvements and a new water treatment plant (reservoir).

“We’ll be allowed to grow without having an infrastructure deficit hanging over our heads,” he said, pointing to one change that may affect some homeowners this year.

“A lot of towns have a minimum tax at $500 or $600 per month and we were at $250 so we thought moving it to $300 wouldn’t be a bad thing.”

Cooper praised Willis, administration and council for their efforts to find a way to keep taxes low in such hard economic times.

“Well done to Willis and the whole team and thank you to council for all the input while we worked on our taxes and our budgets,” said Cooper. “This shows we’re going in the right direction.”

“On this tax budget, both administration and council worked very hard. We went through a lot of different meetings to try to get to where we are today,” he added.

Several councillors also thanked the town for making the necessary changes to help build a better future for Penhold.

“This was the perfect time to do what we needed to do,” said Coun. Sharolyn Sanchez.

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Kristine Jean

Kristine Jean is a reporter with the Innisfail Province, joining the newspaper in 2013. She covers Penhold municipal politics, news and community events as well as sports in and around the town as well as in Innisfail.