The budget is being reviewed amid controversy over commercial tax increases.
Gary Schlageter, the Chief Administrative Officer, has been instructed by Council to look through the budget, line-by-line, to see if there are “possible abatements” for 2021.
News about the budget review is in a September 3 letter from Schlageter to local businesses.
In it, he said that Mayor and Council met on August 17 to discuss 2021 commercial taxes.
“The result of this conversation was a desire to reach out to you as a commercial business owner in our community,” he wrote.
Schlageter said that if the current budget could not be amended, there was a possibility of action next year to help “rectify the tax increase”.
He mentioned five things being considered by Council for the 2022 Budget:
• Lowering of base tax for commercial properties;
• Reducing te commercial mill rate factor;
• Areas of spending that could be reduced;
• Increase residential base tax and mill rate factor to decrease the tax gap; and/or
• Working with Gillian Moch, the Economic Development Officer (EDO), to look at new tax incentives for commercial businesses. Example: Multiple owned business properties, years in operation, etc.
“Moving forward, Council has discussed different ways of working through the budget process; beginning with more education on the tax tools and how they impact each property class in our community.
“Council is committed to building a better working relationship with our commercial businesses.”
The subject of taxes was on the agenda at last Wednesday’s public meeting at The Armoury.
Schlageter said the fact that 2021 was a re-assessment year impacted taxes.
“Your taxes are based on the assessed value of your property,” he said.
Michelle McKenzie, the Mayor of Maple Creek, referred the audience to the September 3 letter to commercial businesses.
Something being considered by Council for 2022 was reducing the tax gap between commercial and residential sectors.
“So that commercial properties are not taking the brunt load of everything that is coming through.”
An audience member said businesses had no way of knowing what taxes they would face until Council set the mill rate/mill rate factors.
For 2021, Council changed all three mill rate factors:
• Commercial – 3.0 (Increase of 0.87 mill rate factor from 2020);
• Residential – 0.609 (Increase of 0.002 from 2020);
• Agriculture – 3.0 (increase of 0.87 from 2020).
The mill rate was kept at 13 mills, while the base tax remained at $1,050.