Modest tax increase predicted for High Prairie taxpayers

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

Town of High Prairie taxpayers can expect an approximate three per cent increases in their tax bills when they open their mail later this year.
Council passed its preliminary operational and capital budgets at its meeting Feb. 14.
For a typical house based on about $200,000 of assessment the increase will be about $61.50 or just over $5 per month. Assuming, of course, that property assessment does not increase or decrease significantly.
Only one amended was added from previous budget meetings. A boiler at the indoor pool and heat exchanger, also at the pool, at a cost of $37,000 to be split between council and Big Lakes County.
CAO Bill McKennan told council administration has not yet received the tax roll from the Alberta governments but there should be few surprise. He added there is “expected growth” which should offset pool repairs.
Councillor Sacha Martens asked council if they wanted to pass the budgets because three members were absent: Mayor Brian Panasiuk, and councillors John Dunn and Judy Stenhouse.
McKennan replied there was no “urgency” but added council had several meetings and agreed with the budgets. For that reason, Councillor Donna Deynaka wanted to pass the budgets.
“I don’t see why we can’t approve this now,” she said.
“I don’t think we need to drag this out any more,” added Councillor James Waikle.
The budgets passed unanimously.
In reports to council, administration highlighted some of the issues facing council.
Of note, the cost for policing is increasing significantly. In 2019, council paid nothing. In 2020, the bill was $36,500 but this year rises to $132,000.
The amount of provincial infrastructure funding in recent years has decreased by $461,727.
Total capital expenditures planned this year total just over $5.7 million including:

  • Lift Station 3 rehabilitations of $1.275 million conditional on grant funding;
  • 52 Ave. and underground utility renewal costing $1,875,850;
  • Moostoos parking lot paving costing $75,000;
  • Sports Palace ice pad replacement at $1,205,500.
    The operating budget is $11,681,268. Council tried as best they could to hold the line but noted it is more expensive to operate with costs rising everywhere.
    The mill rate bylaw to set the exact tax rates will occur when the assessment rolls arrive.

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