Alix passes operating budget with 0% increase

Alix council approved their operating budget and property tax bylaw April 7. Stu Salkeld/ECA Review

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

ALIX – The Village of Alix council approved their 2021 operating budget plus the property tax bylaw with no mill rate increase this year. 

The decisions were made at the April 7 regular meeting of council.

The 2021 operating budget was presented to councillors by Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White, including changes that reflect council decisions in the strategic plan. 

“Recreation revenue and expenses have been re-allocated to the appropriate sections of the budget, Disaster Services and Economic Development,” stated White’s report.

“This is reflective of the shift away from recreation activities resulting from council’s strategic plan.”

She stated a part of the administration expenses was also reduced. 

“Admin-Professional Fees has been dropped to $15,000,” said White. “Prior years the budget for this line was $25,000. This $10,000 reduction is due to the recently established general reserve which can be used for unforeseen professional services such as legal counsel.”

Further, White noted the purchase of a new mower for the village will impact actual tax revenue.

The CAO also noted the Municipal Government Act states municipalities can’t pass residential or commercial tax bylaws until that year’s capital and operating budgets have been approved.

Councillors unanimously approved the 2021 operating budget.

Property tax bylaw

The CAO presented the proposed 2021 property tax bylaw, noting it took a bit longer to prepare because the provincial government changed the requisition amounts for things like education after village staff already completed the draft. 

She said both the budget and bylaw had to be re-jigged.

The CAO stated residential and non-residential mill rates will remain the same as last year, which are actually the same mill rates that date back to 2017, the fourth year in a row with no change.

Coun. Vicki Soltermann stated she was content with this. 

“I think we’re doing good,” said Soltermann, noting the village was holding the line but also getting infrastructure projects done.

Soltermann stated Alix property taxes were among the highest in Alberta villages in years past.

Mayor Rob Fehr agreed with Soltermann, but added that the village has completed plenty of other projects that don’t get as much publicity as infrastructure. 

“Don’t want to lose sight of that either,” said the mayor.

Coun. Tim Besuijen stated the village staff worked hard to keep the budget static. 

CAO White stated that, after the pandemic year, residents would likely appreciate a year of no mill rate increases.

Soltermann said she still felt the Alix mill rate was too high compared to nearby communities.

It should be noted that the mill rate is only one factor in determining the number that property owners eventually see on their tax bill; property value is another.

Councillors unanimously approved all readings of the 2021 property tax bylaw.

2020 finances

Councillors re-examined the audited 2020 financial statements that were previously presented at a council meeting in March by BDO Canada.

Some tweaks were requested, including the allocation of unspent monies to reserve accounts. 

It was previously explained the funds were earmarked for construction projects that were delayed.

Councillors unanimously approved the audited 2020 financial statements.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/East Central Alberta Review