RMWB Council approved the 2020 Property Tax Rate Bylaw.
This resulted in the reduction in overall property taxes by $168-million.
The bylaw would assist in completing the work outlined in the approved operating and capital budgets.
Mayor Don Scott said this direct support to the local economy and jobs ensures community members have support to overcome the challenges at present.
“The Municipality will continue to invest in the projects, programs and services residents and businesses need to succeed while exploring and considering all options to assist residents and local businesses as we move forward on our path to recovery.”
The originally approved 2020 Municipal Budget required $604-million from property tax revenue.
From the use of reserve funds, that figure decreased by $112-million.
The bylaw decides the tax rates for different property classes based on the total assessed value of properties within each property class.
CAO Jamie Doyle said the reduction of the tax burden responds to the pandemic, economic downturn, and the flood.
“Our region has enjoyed periods of significant economic growth, allowing the Municipality to develop a strong fiscal management strategy focused on long-term financial sustainability.”
Doyle said the RMWB maintains some of the lowest tax rates in the province.
The reduction in the property tax bill in 2020 also coincides with the reduction of the tax ratio.
The new tax ratio would go from 12.45:1 to 7.78:1.
The new ratio is close to the Government of Alberta definition of a conforming Municipality of 5:1.
Ratios are between the highest non-residential and lowest residential tax rate.
In 2017, the RMWB had an 18:1 tax ratio.
The bylaw includes the rural non-residential small business property sub-class.
Properties may apply for a further 25 per cent reduction from the rural non-residential rate from June 1 to Dec. 31, 2020.
Karim Zariffa, Executive Director of the Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA) said the organization supported a reduction to the so-called ‘mill rate’.
The mill rate covers rural non-residential machinery and equipment.
In 2019, this sub-class paid $6,522,664, but according to the bylaw it would pay $4,827,150 in 2020.
OSCA was not in favour of the other option to defer this year’s designated industrial property taxes.
“With the current state of the global economy and the likelihood of a long recovery for Alberta, OSCA and our members are recommending that the RMWB Council approve [the] administration’s recommendation of a 26 [per cent] reduction in the rural non-residential mill rate.”
Zariffa said this will help industry partners preserve liquidity.
Councillors Bruce Inglis and Claris Voyageur voted against the 2020 Property Tax Rate Bylaw.
They argued against the resulting tax rate increase for rural residential properties of 19 per cent.
According to the administration, the median municipal tax change for that class is a reduction of three dollars.
— MyMcMurray (@MyMcMurray) May 13, 2020
Inglis and Voyageur dissented for both readings.
Mayor and Councillors also passed the Tax Penalty Relief Bylaw.
Residents may defer property tax payments and penalties to Sept. 30, 2020.
If they pay through a financial institution, residents should contact them to defer payment.
The RMWB will mail tax notices by the end of May and property taxes are due on June 30.