BANFF – The Town of Banff plans to re-examine its budget and property taxes in the face of the global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Due to the global pandemic and the local state of emergency declared by the Town of Banff, officials say the municipality is reviewing all services to ensure essential services are provided.
“This means some programs will be paused at this time. This will have a positive impact on our budget, and therefore taxes,” said Jason Darrah, a spokesperson for the Town of Banff.
“In addition, because the COVID-19 measures will result in many businesses experiencing economic hardship, the Town is reviewing all means to mitigate the impact of property taxes and fees.”
The Town of Banff is working with the Alberta government on options related to property taxes and other expenditures to lessen the impact on Banff businesses and residents.
“The federal government will be announcing support packages very soon as well,” said Darrah.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis evolving in the Bow Valley this week, Banff residents had been expecting to see a much higher than expected tax bill due to the provincial government raising education taxes for Banff.
Based on a cap under the Municipal Government Act of a 5:1 mill rate split, the average residential property tax increase was estimated to be 10.4 per cent and non-residential 6.5 per cent.
It would take a 5.315:1 split in order to equalize between the two sectors.
As part of the provincial budget tabled on Feb. 27, the province required the Town of Banff to collect $9.8 million in school taxes, which is $1.37 million more than the previous year.
The municipality also had to collect another $125,000 in 2020 that was under-levied in 2019 due to the fact the UCP government tabled that budget in the fall.
In January, the Town of Banff estimated the overall tax increase – which includes municipal property taxes, the provincial education tax and Bow Valley Regional Housing levy – at just under five per cent. The municipal tax portion was just two per cent of that total.
However, the main reason for the big jump in the education tax requisition in Banff is because of the increase in Banff’s property assessments relative to the rest of the province.
Banff’s overall 2019 property assessments are up 4.75 per cent from $3.088 billion to $3.235 billion.
Chris Hughes, the Town of Banff’s corporate services director, said Banff’s education requisition increased about four times that of the average municipality in Alberta – and much more than the Town’s previous conservative estimate.
“We had the largest increase in provincial education levies of any municipality in the province,” he said.
Property assessment values, municipal operating budget, the provincial school tax requisition and the mill rate split are measures used to determine the amount of taxes to be charged to each property owner.
“Those four things are used in determining any individual’s property overall tax change year-over-year – and again it’s largely relative,” said Hughes.
Alberta Municipal Affairs establishes the provincial mill rate used to determine each municipality's share of the provincial education tax.
In budget 2020-21, the province is collecting about $2.6 billion in education property taxes from municipalities.