Nicholas L. M. Allen
Apr 5, 2023
During the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass council meeting on March 28, council debated the annual property tax bylaw and other requests for decision.
According to Municipal administration, the annual property tax rate bylaw sets out the assessed values by class and calculates the tax rates required to raise budgeted tax revenue in accordance with property tax policies. The amount of tax revenue required to balance the 2023 budget was presented and approved by Council on December 1, 2022.
“Each year we go in and calculate what the assessed values are and the appropriate tax rates for different classes to come up with what our annual tax rate calculations are. When the budget was set in December it was proposed for a two per cent bill increase this year,” said CAO Patrick Thomas.
After completing the assessment for 2022, they have realized growth in the assessment value that grew by about $131 million of assessment in total. That is around $38 million in new growth with the remainder being inflationary growth.
“This has resulted in additional tax funds that will be generated,” said Thomas, “Administration is recommending a combination of a future discussion on some of our deferred initiatives that we could complete this year as well as put aside some additional contributory reserves with some of the unknowns of inflation pressures that we are still realizing in the marketplace.”
A two per cent property tax increase combined with the growth and inflation amount for 2023 would result in a combined tax revenue of $11,277,377 compared to the 2023 Budget approval in December where $10,152,512 was required to balance the budget. This would be a net increase of $1,124,865 that could be used for initiatives that were deferred to 2024 or by putting additional funds aside in reserves for future expenses and unknowns in 2024. A one per cent change to the tax rate would currently generate approximately $110,500.
“I love that there’s this extra money because I really feel we need to be on top of this and get some of these master plans that we put on the back burner because we never have money,” said councillor Lisa Sygutek.
She said they need to do this two per cent increase and was glad that the other members of council “were all on the same page” regarding the change.
There were two public hearings held during the meeting as well. The first was a land use bylaw amendment to redesignate a piece of land on the west end of the municipality from non-urban area to non-urban commercial recreation for camping use.
The municipality determined that the applicant’s objective is to have a campground which is primarily to be used and enjoyed by a limited number of family members and personal friends. There is also no intention for the applicant to profit from the use of the campground.
The parcel of land, for unknown historical reasons, exists as a smaller parcel. Redesignating the parcel would be consistent with other campgrounds in the community. The ground is low lying with a stream running through the property. Test holes found that construction of a single-family dwelling may require extensive groundwork for a solid foundation. Because of this, the applicant considered a campground to be a better current use of the Parcel.
The second public hearing was for a land use bylaw amendment to redesignate lots from multi-family apartment residential to residential.
The purpose of the bylaw is to bring the existing properties into compliance. The zoning irregularity was discovered through a compliance certificate request for Lots 30-32. Subsequently, the incorrect zoning of Lot 29 was also discovered.
There was also discussion around minimum building size. There proposed bylaw is for determining a reasonable minimum for a single-family dwelling comparable to the typical size in different areas of the Crowsnest Pass and to recognize the importance of ensuring that affordable and attainable housing options can be readily provided in the Crowsnest Pass.
Discussion around the rates and charges bylaws also took place, with the water rates for the golf course receiving plenty of attention. How they would change the rate was debated extensively before a motion was put forward.
“I’m willing to put forward a motion to reduce the water rate for irrigating the golf course by 20 per cent,” said Councillor Vicki Kubik.
She added the golf course have done what they can to conserve water.
“I think they’re going to continue working in that direction. I think this is showing them some good faith on our part that we’re willing to work with them to resolve this issue. If, in a year’s time, we’re finding that this has been a contentious issue for residents and for ourselves, we can always readdress,” said Kubik.
More information on council meetings can be found at crowsnestpass.com.