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Town of Barrhead mill rate to increase by 1.8 per cent

Corporate services director Jennifer Mantay noted it is the first increase since 2019
Town of Barrhead corporate services director Jennifer Mantay presented the 2023 final budget during the Jan. 10 council meeting.

BARRHEAD – Town of Barrhead property owners will, in all likelihood, notice a bump on their tax bill in the spring. 

As part of approving the final 2023 operating and capital budgets, town councillors also approved the mill rate with a 1.8 per cent increase to municipal properties, including residential, non-residential, farmland and machinery and equipment. It is the first since 2019. 

It is worth mentioning that while councillors approved the 2023 operating and capital budgets, which includes a 1.8 per cent increase to the municipal portion of the ratepayers' property taxes, the mill rate for 2023, corporate services director Jennifer Mantay said, isn't official until council approves its Property Tax Bylaw in the spring after the municipality receives the final information on assessment value and requisitions from the province.  

Under the province's Municipal Government Act, the mill rate is approved separately as part of the Property Tax Bylaw, despite being an integral part of the budget process. 

Mantay noted the increase would mean residential ratepayers would see an increase of $15.26 per $100,000 in assessment. For non-residential ratepayers, the increase amounts to $25.36 for every $100,000 in assessment. 

She reiterated the increase only includes the municipal portion of ratepayers' tax bills and not the school and social housing requestions that the town collects on behalf of the province. 

She added that the operating budget also includes an increase of two per cent to the franchise fees to Fortis and Apex, noting more information will be provided and council's formal approval will be requested at the Jan. 24 council meeting. 

Operating budget 

The 2023 operating budget is pegged at $15,213,840 with revenue of $15,224,360 and an amortization expense of $2,052,800 for a surplus of $10,520. 

Mantay noted the majority of the operational budget's revenue comes from municipal property taxes at $5,049,430 or roughly 33 per cent, while 29 per cent or $4,463,790 comes from sales and user charges. Franchise fees from utilities, licences, rentals and permits account for another $1,815,990 or about 12 per cent, while the school requisition, contributions from local government, provincial and federal government grants, the aquatics centre debenture, revenue is drawn from reserves and the social housing requisition account for $1,478,170; $1,455,830; $494,970; $294,260; $109,800; and $62,120, respectively. 

On the operating expense side, maintaining the municipality's utilities (water, sewer, garbage and recycling) accounts for the largest expenditure at $3,554,350, followed by recreation, public services along with roads and sewers, protective services (RCMP, the Emergency Response Centre, fire department and bylaw) at $3,027,750, $$1,878,970, $1,881,100, respectively.  

Requisitions for the province (school, social housing, linear); administration; contributions to capital projects; development along with communications; tourism and twinning; Barrhead and District Family Support Services; council and the airport and library round off the town's operating expenditures at $1,584,470; $1,026,470; $920,490; $471,680; $466,420; $279,520; and $122,620 respectively. 

Coun. Rod Klumph noticed the increase in protective services expenditures from 2022, specifically singling out the RCMP, asking if the increase was due to a wage increase the RCMP negotiated with the federal government in April 2022. In 2022, the municipality budgeted $136,360, jumping to $160,360 in the 2023 operating budget. 

Mantay said no, noting the change is due to the change in the police funding model the province introduced in 2019, in which rural municipalities and those with populations under 5,000 have to contribute towards their policing costs.  

Capital budget 

The Town of Barrhead’s 2023 capital budget with revenue and expenditures is pegged at $3,864,340. 

Capital projects slated for 2023 for the public works department include the future street program engineering plan; pavement overlay for 53rd Avenue; a pavement overlay project for 50th Avenue from 58th to 60th Street; a detailed design project for 49A Street along with the addition of assorted new sidewalk projects and concrete for the town yard. 

Water, sewer, storm sewer, trade waste, and recycle projects scheduled for 2023 include bulk water system upgrades; a lagoon berm rehab; a pump rebuild at the main water lift pumping station; a new control pump control panel; the completion of the industrial park reservoir pump system; along with upgrades to its roof along with general lagoon upgrades. 

Notable parks and recreation capital projects expected to begin or be completed in 2023 include a new observation for the Blue Heron Walking Trail's boardwalk; the addition of pool circulation pumps; and the completion of the Agrena ice plant retrofit and all-wheel skate park. 

Chief administrative officer Edward LeBlanc complimented the finance team for getting the budget completed in such a timely manner. 

He noted it was the first time in recent memory that the final budget was completed in January. 

"Most of the time, it's been presented to council in April or even May," LeBlanc said. 

Coun. Anthony Oswald agreed, noting the early adoption of the budget can only help all the municipal departments as it gives them the authority to start work on their projects earlier. 

Coun. Rod Klumph also gave kudos to all the department heads, who were very prudent in their budgeting. 

"A 1.8 per cent (mill rate increase) when you look at inflation that is between five and seven per cent, the department heads had to cut their budgets back, and they did it without any operational cutbacks," he said. 



Barry Kerton

About the Author: Barry Kerton

Barry Kerton is the managing editor of the Barrhead Leader, joining the paper in 2014. He covers news, municipal politics and sports.
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