Elk Point Town Council has held the line on the municipal tax rate, mill rate, for 2016. Councillor Lorne Young explains Council knew, due to the economy, it was a tough year for many and did not want to add any extra burden on the residents. Council even softened the blow of taxes by decreasing the Town’s capital reserves as a way to control the mill rate. However, there was two factors that Council could not control, the Education Tax and the assessed values of property.
“The end of the story is, the mill rate is staying the same for both residential and commercial properties,” announces Councillor Young, “we recognized the economic times and we definitely didn’t want to see an increase in taxes.”
“There was an increase in the [Education Tax], which is set by the Province, and we simply collect.” Young says Council worked hard on the budget to offset the increase in the provincial tax, “we lowered our capital reserves. So the net effect is the Province increased their school portion and we lowered our capital reserve portion and it left the mill rate exactly the same as it was last year, and the year before, and the year before…”
“If there’s any increase in taxes, it wouldn’t be from us,” states Young. Property taxes are determined by multiplying the mill rate by the assessed value of property. A few things to note, assessments are done a year prior to setting the tax rate and if property is incomplete in one year the assessment may be substantially lower from one year to the next. For example, a new commercial building only has foundation at the assessment time in 2014, then is completed in 2015, the assessed value would jump up. Young can think of only one commercial property off the top of his mind where this may be seen, the Coop, which underwent major renovations in 2014-15.
“We did a sampling of several residents and businesses in town, and other than the Coop, which went through a major rebuild, there’s very minimal increases and in some cases their decreases. Again, totally dependent on where their assessments are.” For residents having a lower assessed value on property will reflect in a lower tax bill, however it can have an effect on how much taxes are collected by municipalities; which if a large enough decrease could in turn effect the number of services and programming a town can offer its residents.
Young says Council does not anticipate services being affected by the lower amount of municipal taxes being collected; however some road improvement projects may be deferred to another year. “Ideally, we’d like to do some more work on our roads, and we do have a couple waterlines that we know we want to replace, we are deferring those in a sense.” At the same time there’s major projects the Town is moving forward on; including, the bulk water treatment storage (joint project with the County of St. Paul) and 14 new lots in the Centennial Subdivision.
“We’re trying to run a fairly lean operation, we’ve got some loans that we’re dealing with, with the treated water storage and the new Centennial subdivision. We’re actually in fairy good shape.”