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Residential mill rate increases by 1%

The residential municipal mill rate in the County of Barrhead will increase by one per cent, while the farmland municipal mill rate will increase by 1.

The residential municipal mill rate in the County of Barrhead will increase by one per cent, while the farmland municipal mill rate will increase by 1.5 per cent after the County of Barrhead approved its 2011 operating and capital budgets on April 19.

The non-residential municipal mill rate will increase by three per cent. The budget was approved following two days of deliberation. The budget provides for the delivery of a wide range of local government services and programs to the residents and ratepayers of the municipality, said County Manager Mark Oberg. How much tax levy each individual residence will pay is determined by the market value of that particular property; therefore, some properties could see a small increase and some could see a small decrease. The County of Barrhead does not determine market values, but is confident ratepayers should not see large increases in the taxes they pay to the municipality.

The County’s operating budget for 2011 is $12.1 million and the capital budget is $9.4 million, for a total of $21.5 million. Approximately $9.4 million will be collected from property taxes, which will be used for requisitions and the operating and capital budgets.

“While most of the decisions that are made are internal, and are within the direction and control of Council, this year there were some significant external influences on this year’s budget,” Oberg said.

Some of these items were: The reduction in the non-residential and pipe and power assessments; the increase in the school and social housing requisitions; and the reduction to the County’s MSI operating grant from $308,540 in 2010 to $215,749 this year.

With this year’s budget, the County of Barrhead is able to continue to provide the services that to which residents are accustomed, Oberg said. As well, the County will be able to make some changes that will ensure the municipality is able to continue providing these services into the future.

Furthermore, the County is working toward taking advantage of some opportunities, Oberg added. Some of the more significant items in the operating and capital budgets for 2011:

• The paving of Township Road 594 (east of Barrhead) and Township 615A (east of Neerlandia) The total cost for these projects is estimated to be $3,132,151, and $2,751,142 of this cost will be paid for by the province’s Municipal Sustainability Initiative grant.

• The construction of a new roof for the Public Works building. (This year’s heavy snowfall showed the weaknesses of the existing roof).

• The exploration of one quarter section of land for gravel deposits that will be needed for road building and maintenance in the decades to come.

• The placing of $25,000 into reserves for the 2013 Alberta 55+ Summer Games.

• The continued purchase of road equipment, to enable Public Works staff to keep County roads in good shape into the future.

• A Road Construction Program, with an estimated cost of $982,924; and a Road Maintenance Program, with an estimated cost of $1,401,200.

• An increase to the operational funding provided for joint services with the Town of Barrhead (for example, Barrhead Fire Services, Barrhead Regional Landfill, recreation programs).

“The County of Barrhead continues to make progress, and to continue our efforts to give good value to our ratepayers,” Oberg said.

Oberg said it is important to note that the County of Barrhead does not control a large part of everyone’s tax bill. Requisitions from the province for school boards, and the Barrhead and District Social Housing Association are forwarded on to the County, and it is up to administration to collect taxes for those organizations. This year the requisitions increased as follows:

•ASFF (School Supplementary): $1,971,635 up from the previous 1,822,307.

• Evergreen CSRD: $19,346, up from the previous $18,026.

• Barrhead &District Social Housing: $95,265, up from the previous $90,690.