Northern Sunrise County tax rates stable

Susan Thompson
South Peace News

Despite challenging economic times, Northern Sunrise County has passed their annual budget without having to raise tax rates

“The County has been extremely fortunate to have a strong financial position over the past several years that allowed us to maintain our current mill rate for 2020,” says Reeve Carolyn Kolebaba.

The County has not had to lay off any staff and no wages have been reduced, either.

However, some cuts have been made.

NSC didn’t allocate the same amount of funds to reserves as in previous years. For 2020, council has motioned net transfers to reserved funds of $618,448 to balance the budget.

Meanwhile, charitable donations were cut by $100,000, and the County didn’t give all local community groups and halls their requested funding.

“We ensured that they were still providing with some funding; however, it was reduced this year,” Kolebaba says.

Some of the capital requests by administration were also removed during the first round of budget deliberations.

“This made our final budget decisions quite easy as they we had already made some difficult decisions,” Kolebaba says.

New projects in 2020 that will go forward include business signs along the highway for the Sunrise Gateway Business Park, improvements to the Sagitawa Lookout, and the refurbishment of the first 10 km of East Ridge Road.

Council will also seek government grants to build cell towers.

Ongoing projects will include the expansion of the County administration buildings, work on the Murphy’s Flats Day Use Area, the oil-stabilized gravel program and drainage works.

The County approved the 2020-22 operations and capital budgets on April 7, and on April 21 council approved the tax rate bylaw.

The 2020 municipal budget [operating and capital] projects revenues of $33,296,846, operating expenditures of $20,985,243 and capital acquisitions expenditures of $11,693,155.

“As we all know, we don’t have a crystal ball to look through and 2021 may be very different as we work to come out of this economic energy downturn and the current COVID-19 pandemic,” Kolebaba says.

Due to the current financial strain of the pandemic on ratepayers, council directed administration to provide either one or the other of two options to county ratepayers for all tax classes for the 2020 tax notice year.

Ratepayers can get a five per cent discount on the general municipal portion only for 2020 if the full balance of property taxes are paid by June 30 [excluding the education, housing and industrial assessment fee amounts].

Or, they can get a deferral of the collection of 50 per cent of the education and general municipal portion of property taxes until Dec. 31, 2020 [excluding the housing and industrial assessment fee amounts].

“I would like to thank my fellow councillors for their hard work and dedication to the County…,” Kolebaba says.

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