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No provincial property tax increases for Canmore, Banff

Commercial and residential taxpayers in Canmore and Banff will see the amount of provincial property taxes they pay go down or only slightly increase this year.

Commercial and residential taxpayers in Canmore and Banff will see the amount of provincial property taxes they pay go down or only slightly increase this year.

For the first time in a while, Canmore’s total education requisition by the province, which is half of the annual total property tax bill, will go down by 1.1 per cent.

Residential properties in Canmore will see a 1.6 per cent decrease while commercial properties will see a 0.8 per cent increase, resulting in a total reduction of taxes going to Edmonton of $173,626 this year.

Terry Holt, manager of financial services for the Town of Canmore, said as a result of reduced growth and assessment rates, the annual requisition for 2011 has changed and resulted in the small changes to residential and commercial rates.

Mayor Ron Casey, however, said the real story with respect to provincial property taxes for Canmore comes when they are compared with communities of a similar size.

Canmore, with a total population of 15,000, will pay $15.6 million total in taxes to the province this year.

Banff, on the other hand, will pay $5.5 million, Cochrane $7.8 million and Okotoks $8.4 million.

No other single municipality considered not to be a city even comes close to paying the same amount, pointed out Casey.

If Canmore was included with the cities of Alberta, it would be the eighth highest paying when it comes to the education requisition, behind Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Lethbridge, St. Albert, Grande Prairie and Medicine Hat.

Canmore pays more than the cities of Brooks, Camrose, Cold Lake, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, Lloydminster, Spruce Grove and Wetaskiwin.

This year, Banff’s total education requisition is down 15.2 per cent. That means property owners are paying $5.5 million overall, $976,585 less than in 2010.

Residential taxpayers will see a reduction of 0.7 per cent in the provincial portion of the bill, while commercial properties will see a reduction of 25.4 per cent.

Kelly Gibson, corporate services manager for the Town of Banff, said the education requisition amount has gone down over the last several years, but this year the reduction is larger.

In 2010, the amount collected dropped by approximately $390,000 and in 2010 by $210,000.

Gibson said in the past, as per the council approved financial plan, those reductions have been redirected to municipal taxes.

That means taxpayers have still paid the amount, but it has gone towards municipal property taxes and put into capital reserves.

How the province calculates the amount it gets municipalities to collect is complicated and can vary year to year.

Gibson said the two biggest factors affecting each year’s calculation is the decrease in commercial assessments as a whole and limited growth, which is a constant factor for Banff.

Whether Banff taxpayers will see the total savings on the provincial side will be up to council, which will set the millrates in April.

In the past, Banff’s politicians have chosen to keep provincial rates the same and redistribute the revenue to general capital reserves.

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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