Tax rate bylaw passed
Red Deer County council approved the tax rate bylaw May 8, having received no feedback from the public after first reading was passed April 24.
“I think we’re doing what the ratepayers are asking us to do,” said Mayor Jim Wood. “There’s only a small increase in taxes.”
Municipal tax rates in Red Deer County are expected to increase by two per cent, but property tax bills are expected to rise higher than that due to the increased education tax this year. Council approved the tax rate bylaw last Tuesday that sets the mill rate for farmland at 7.33 and residential at 2.55. The rate is an increase from 6.65 for farmland and 1.96 for residential in 2011, as well as the increase to non-residential from 8.71 in 2011 to 9.43 in 2012.
Div. 1 Coun. Philip Massier said the feedback he’s heard from ratepayers is to fix the roads and keep the taxes down.
“General taxes are going up a small amount but special levies are coming down,” said Massier, who was pleased to see reductions were made where efficiencies could be found.
Red Deer County’s budget is $73.7 million this year, of which $37.3 million is planned to come from property taxes.
Council looks at regional trail system
Red Deer County council agreed to sit on a committee to learn more about a regional trail system, but made it clear they weren’t committing yet to funding a suggested feasibility study.
The suggested recreational trail would connect Innisfail, Penhold and Bowden to the county. In April, representatives from each municipality met with the Central Alberta Trail Society (CARTS) to discuss the potential support each municipality would give.
Preparing a feasibility study was also suggested as the next step with an estimated cost sitting between $20,000 and $25,000, a report to council said.
While 50 to 70 per cent of the cost would be covered by grants, the rest would be shared between the municipalities. County admin estimates Red Deer County’s share to be between $2,000 and $4,000.
“I suspect most, if not all the trail will be in the county, but I suspect we’ll be the smallest users,” said Div. 2 Coun. Don Nesbitt. “As long as we’re giving our fair share then yes, I support it. But if it’s like other projects where we pay the lion’s share, I’m not interested.”
Mayor Jim Wood said it’s important to have someone at the table to know more about future plans.
Council agreed to appoint Div. 3 Coun. David Hoar to a working committee focused on the trail system but agreed not to commit to funding the feasibility study until he has a chance to sit in on one of the committee meetings to learn more about the study.
Weed control agreement approved
Council agreed to extend a weed control contract between the county and the towns of Innisfail and Sylvan Lake for three more years.
The deal, started in 2010, provides the towns with a county weed inspector once a week between May 15 and Aug. 31 each year.
“We’re proposing a three-year term with built-in increases,” said agricultural services manager Art Preachuck.
“Getting them involved with our program keeps weeds out of their beaches and our fields. It’s hard to control when it’s in a jurisdiction you can’t get into,” he said.
The fee for the municipalities is $7,500 for the 2012 season, $8,000 for 2013, and $8,500 for 2013.
The county has also started an eradicable weed initiative that encourages county landowners to report invasive weeds. The county will provide the labour and equipment free of charge to control the noxious weeds on private property but the landowner will be required to cover the cost of the herbicide applied.