Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why do municipalities have to develop budgets?
  2. What is an operating budget?
  3. What is a capital budget?
  4. How does the County fund the budgets?
  5. What is a reserve?
  6. How is debt used?
  7. What do your budget expenses fund?
  8. How is the County's yearly budget set?
  9. What is a Strategic Plan?
  10. When does the County approve the budget?
  11. What is the approval process for the 2020 budget?
  12. What are the changes to municipal taxes in 2020?
  13. What is a municipal tax mill rate?
  14. How much will the average household pay in residential property taxes?
  15. How are property values assessed?
  16. Why has my municipal taxes increased or remained the same since 2019 when the municipal tax rate decreased by 1.2 per cent?
  17. What is budget for 2020?
  18. What are your tax dollars spent on?
  19. What are the changes to fees in 2020?
  20. When are taxes due?
  21. What is the penalty if I do not pay my taxes by October 30, 2020?
  22. Where do I pay my taxes?
  23. What regulations do I need to follow when I pay my property taxes at the Administration Building?
  24. Are there any payment options where I can divide my payments up instead of paying in one lump sum?
  25. Who do I contact if I have more questions about my taxes?

 

Why do municipalities have to develop budgets?

Under Alberta’s Municipal Government Act, every municipality is required to develop a three-year operating budget and five-year capital budget to allocate revenues and expenditures for their municipality.

To fund the programs and services, two types of budgets are created: the operating budget and the capital budget.

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What is an operating budget?

In the same way that you pay bills to keep the lights on at your house, the operating budget makes up the day-to-day costs needed to provide the services and programs that County residents expect and rely on. Examples include enforcement and fire services, parks and recreation facilities, and County staff salaries.

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What is a capital budget?

The County’s capital budget is like purchasing a home or vehicle – it funds major fixed assets for the future. At home, capital costs include your home, vehicles and renovations. At the County, capital purchases include machinery, vehicles, building, bridges and roads.

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How does the County fund the budgets?

Council and Administration work hard to calculate exactly how much money is necessary to fund the programs and services in the operating and capital budgets and then generate the funds from multiple sources including taxable property assessments, net transfers from reserve, transportation levies and revenue generated from departments, federal and provincial grants and user fees and sale of goods.

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What is a reserve?

A reserve is like a savings account. Every year, the County puts funds into the reserve. Money is only taken out of the reserve when needed and used for critical capital and operational budgets. The advantage of putting money into reserves is that interest accrues on a large portion of the balance.

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How is debt used?

The County typically only uses debt to fund critical capital projects where there are no funds available through grants or in reserves. Municipal regulations set by the Province set a limit on how much debt municipalities can use.

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What do your budget expenses fund?

The County’s budget funds the County’s daily operations, enables the delivery of services, and invest in the critical capital projects required to ensure our region remains a great place for all residents to live, work and play.

Everything the County does has an associated cost, whether it is a direct service such as policing, snow removal and the purchasing of a vehicle to use for road maintenance or an indirect cost such as maintaining our facilities and running the municipality.

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How is the County’s yearly budget set?

Council begins by developing an understanding of the challenges that may be faced and the priorities to be pursued. This information is outlined in the Strategic Plan.

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What is a Strategic Plan?

The Strategic Plan guides us in our short- and long-term planning and serves as a foundation upon which the County’s Business Plan, master plans, division and department plans, and annual budgets are developed.

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When does the County approve the budget?

The County approves an interim budget in the fall annually for the following year. The revised budget is approved in the spring once the Province sets the final property tax levy for education requisitions, and when property assessment values have been confirmed. Tax rates are then finalized during a budget deliberation meeting held by Council every April.

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What is the approval process for the 2020 budget?

The approval process for the budget is completed in the following stages:

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What are the changes to municipal taxes in 2020?

Council approved a 1.2 per cent decrease to the municipal tax rate. For example, the municipal tax rate of 4.1245 for residential property on the tax notice will now be 4.075. The tax rate of 1.2 per cent applies to all assessment classes.

This proposed tax increase does not include the provincial education tax and seniors’ tax we collect on behalf of the provincial government and the Grande Spirit Foundation, respectively.

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What is a municipal tax mill rate?

The tax mill rate is set by the County and what property owners pay in municipal taxes. The tax mill rate does not include the education and seniors’ foundation levies that all municipalities including the County must collect on behalf of the provincial government. The tax bill that property owners receive every May includes the tax mill rate and the provincial education tax and Grande Spirit Foundation tax.

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How much will the average household pay in residential property taxes?

The average property valued assessed at $435,000 will pay a total of $2,872.70. $1,772.63 goes to the County, $1,080.45 to the Province for the school tax, and $19.62 to Grande Spirit Foundation for the seniors’ tax. View the Making Sense of the Budget Fact Sheet for more details.

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How are property values assessed?

Residential property values are based on the home’s market value, which is what the price a property is reasonably expected to sell for if sold by a willing seller to a willing buyer. Assessors gather information on ranges of sale prices in the marketplace and use these sales to establish the assessed values. In establishing the values on property, assessors complete the valuation using mass appraisal techniques and statistical data as part of the process for calculating market value assessments.

It is important to note that some types of property such as farmland, machinery and equipment, and linear are assessed using provincially regulated rates, and therefore have different valuation standards than market value.

Some types of property such as farmland, machinery and equipment, and linear are assessed using provincially regulated values and therefore have different valuation standards than market value. For more information on property assessment, contact the Assessment department at 780-532-9722 or visit the Assessment page. Further details, check out Municipal Affair’s Guide to Property Assessment and Taxation in Alberta.

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Why has my municipal taxes increased or remained the same since 2019 when the municipal tax rate decreased by 1.2 per cent?

Upon receiving your tax notice in May of 2020, it’s important to understand that the assessed values of your property are based on a valuation date of July 1, 2019 and what was physically on your property as of December 31, 2019.

If the assessed value of your property has increased by 1.2 per cent from the prior year’s assessment, and the new portion of the municipal tax rate in 2020 was reduced by 1.2 per cent then there would be no change to your taxes in 2020. The change in the municipal portion of your taxes would remain the same as the prior year. If it was determined that your property assessment went up greater than 1.2 per cent then your 2020 tax bill will increase.

Since the 2020 tax bill represents what the estimated value would be on July 1, 2019, any value impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic or the impact locally from the changes in price of oil markets in 2020 will not be reflected until 2021. In 2020, the assessors will determine the impacts that these and what other variables have impacted the market prices. These assessment adjustments will be reflected in the 2021 tax year, and the municipal tax rates will be re-adjusted by Council and Administration at that time.

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What is budget for 2020?

The overall $149.5 million budget includes estimated expenditures of $78.4 million for general operations and $71.1 million for capital.

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What are your tax dollars spent on?

Your tax dollars are spent on programs and services that impact your daily life. For every dollar of your municipal taxes, we are investing:

  • 45.3 cents into accessible, reliable, and connected road networks, bridges and other necessary transportation infrastructure.
  • 20.8 cents into Regional Enforcement, Fire Service and Disaster Services, Family and Community Support Services, Agricultural Services, Library Services, Parks and Recreation Services, community grants, and other community safety initiatives.
  • 15.4 cents into running the municipality which includes staffing and resources for Assessment, Asset Management, Communications, Council, County Administrator Office, Financial Services, Human Resources and Safety, Information Technology, Insurance and Risk Management, Legislative Services, Procurement.
  • 12.8 cents towards fresh, clean water, maintenance of our wastewater systems, and efficient and responsible waste disposal and recycling services and programs.
  • 5.7 cents towards efficient and effective planning that ensures our communities are sustainable, growing, and vibrant.

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What are the changes to fees in 2020?

Fees for the Assessment Review Board Appeal Deposits for Residential and Farmland properties will decrease from $100 per appeal to $50 per appeal.

Fees for Commercial/Industrial and Residential/Non-member rates will increase from $95 to $96.90 per tonne for waste disposal.

Fees for the Residential curbside recycling collection will increase from $4.50 to $4.75, and from $9.25 to $9.50 per month for curbside waste collection due to an increase in contract hauling service costs.

There will be a 3 per cent increase in sewer rates, which amounts to a $1 increase bi-monthly for residential property owners; and a $2 bi-monthly increase for commercial property owners in the hamlets of Bezanson, La Glace, Teepee Creek and Valhalla.

A 3 per cent increase to bi-monthly water rates equating to a $3 increase bi-monthly for residential property owners, and $9 increase bi-monthly for commercial property owners in the hamlets of Bezanson, La Glace and Teepee Creek.

The introduction of a $100 fee to renew a development permit.

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When are taxes due?

Property owners are asked to pay their property taxes by June 30, 2020 if possible.

The County understands the hardships and challenges faced by many businesses and residents due to the COVID-19 pandemic and current economic conditions that has affected being able to pay on time. Penalties for late payments made after June 30 will be waived until October 30, 2020.

The Province is allowing non-residential property owners who have commercial and industrial, linear (pipeline, power and well), machinery and equipment, and/or farmland property to defer paying Provincial Education Taxes and Seniors Tax until September 30, 2020.

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What is the penalty if I do not pay my taxes by October 30, 2020?

Property owners are subject to pay an additional 12 per cent of their total tax bill

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Where do I pay my taxes?

  • By credit card (Visa and MasterCard) online on our Property Taxes page (subject to a 2.2 per cent convenience fee)
  • Online banking and at any major banking institute
  • By cheque by mail to 10001 84 Avenue, Clairmont, AB T8X 5B2
  • Starting Monday, May 25, 2020, the Administration Building located at 10001 84 Avenue, Clairmont, AB will be open for in-person tax payments and other payments only Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The office will be open during the lunch hour starting on June 15 for tax payments and other payments only. Those paying taxes or making other payments at the Administration Building must adhere to safety regulations.

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What regulations do I need to follow when I pay my property taxes at the Administration Building?

  • There will be a limit of five patrons at a time in the front reception of the Administration Building
  • Use the hand sanitizer provided upon entering and exiting the building
  • Maintain 2 m/ 6 ft physical distance from others
  • Do not enter the building if you have travelled outside of Canada within 14 days or are experiencing flu-like symptoms

Additional safety measures will be practiced by staff to ensure everyone’s safety

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Are there any payment options where I can divide my payments up instead of paying in one lump sum?

Property owners can enroll in a Tax Installment Payment Plan (TIPP) where they can choose to divide their tax payments into six monthly payments throughout 2020; or make a six-month lump sum payment up front and pay the remaining balance in six monthly payments. To register for either option, property owners must enroll by June 30, 2020 by contacting Assessment Services at taxes@countygp.ab.ca or call 780-513-3952.

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Who do I contact if I have more questions about my taxes?

Contact the Assessment Services department at taxes@countygp.ab.ca or by phone at 780-513-3952.

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