Financial impact of COVID-19 forces Red Deer city council to reduce operating budget

Former tax increase of 0.96% cut to 0.5%

After a financial update on the impact of COVID-19, Red Deer city council amended the 2020 Operating Budget to align with 2019 levels to reduce the financial impact on property owners.

The amendment to the 2020 Operating Budget will see the municipal tax portion increase originally slated at 0.96 per cent brought down to 0.5 per cent and then combined with the seniors’ housing levy and reduced provincial education levy for the total property tax collected by the city.

“The average property owner will see a reduction in their overall tax bill due to the reduction in education levy requirements by the province and the reduction by city council of the municipal operating budget to keep it at 2019 levels,” said Mayor Tara Veer.

“Council maintained the existing 2020 capital budget to ensure our critical infrastructure needs are met while reducing the already approved operating budget amount.”

The reduction in education levy collections is due to the provincial government freezing the component in 2020 and overestimating the 2019 amount communities collected as a result of the delay in the provincial budget.

Residential and non-residential property owners with the average change in assessed value will see a decrease of 1.36 per cent to their overall tax bill, while multi-family properties will see an increase of 1.29 per cent in order to keep all residential type property tax rates the same.

Council directed administration to review the multi-family property class and whether it should remain as a sub-class, or be combined as part of the residential property class for future year property taxation.

“We recognize the financial burden our tax payers are facing, and we want to minimize the impact the best we can while maintaining the service we provide and infrastructure required to do so,” said Mayor Tara Veer.

Council passed first and second readings of the Tax Rate Bylaw during their meeting May 11 and will return to council during a special meeting on May 13 for third reading.