By J.W. Schnarr
Municipal District of Taber residents could see a three per cent increase to their property taxes in 2015.
During their regular meeting on Dec. 9, M.D. of Taber council accepted 14 recommendations made by the finance committee as part of their 2015 budget planning, including approval of the municipal budget proposal.
The proposal included a projected increase of $434,151 over last year, increasing to $14,905,839 from $14,471,688.
Municipal Administrator Derrick Krizsan said there is still a long way to go between now and when the mill rate is set in the spring, and there are several factors which could affect the current numbers.
The biggest variable would be the price of oil, as Krizsan noted the M.D. spends an estimated $1.2 million annually on fuel for its fleet of vehicles. For budgeting purposes, the fuel rate was set at $1.10 per litre, though recently the price has been as much as $.30 lower. Prolonged low fuel prices could potentially be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for M.D. coffers, though low oil could also affect the revenue side as well.
An analysis for the projected budget for 2015 compared to the 2014 budget included the following possible changes:
Three per cent increase in property taxes; zero increase in grants and interest revenues; 1.74 per cent increase in legislative expenditures; 9.24 per cent increase in administration expenditures; 3.74 per cent increase in assessment services expenditures; 5.59 per cent increase in GIS (geographical information system) expenditures; 32.31 per cent increase in fire protection expenditures; 4.62 per cent increase in bylaw enforcement expenditures; 3.07 per cent decrease in development and planning expenditures; 5.64 per cent increase in transportation service expenditures; 3.88 per cent increase in water department expenditures; zero increase in waste water department expenditures; .03 per cent increase in environmental health expenditures; zero increase in family community support; 2.71 increase in agricultural service board expenditures; zero increase in lot and land sales; 13.71 per cent increase in land/lot/buildings; 11.15 per cent increase in recreation and park expenditures; and 2.83 per cent increase in library expenditures.
The 2015 budget projects an operating surplus of $421,379, about half of what it was in 2014 at $860,466, and representing a change of $439,087. The proposed budget does not represent the final budget for 2015.