Alix village council heard a report about their 2024 municipal budget and that it’s likely local property tax rates will not increase next year. The report was made at the Nov. 1 regular meeting of council.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White presented councillors with an interim 2024 operating budget that stated total revenue or monies taken in by the municipality next year are estimated at $2,808,924.14 with expenses next year estimated at $2,808,924.14.
The same report stated the current year’s operating budget brought in $2,851,387.14 in revenue to pay municipal expenses of $2,851,387.14, meaning 2024 was projected at being slightly lower in revenue and expenses than 2023.
The CAO stated during discussion that village staff were not entertaining any changes to the mill rates at this time. However, White pointed out there are other factors at play in the calculation of a property tax bill that the Village of Alix has no control over, including assessment value and provincial requisitions.
Provincial requisitions, including the ever-important education tax, are set by the Government of Alberta and placed on local property tax bills which are collected by municipalities then forwarded to the provincial government. The municipality acts only as a collector and has no authority over requisitions.
Hence it’s possible that a municipality such as the Village of Alix could keep its mill rates identical year to year yet see property tax bills increase because property values grew while provincial requisitions were also hiked.
Councillors discussed differences between the 2023 operating budget and the draft 2024 operating budget’s numbers. White responded the Village of Alix has had “significant properties” removed from its tax arrears list.
As well, the 2024 budget proposes a 2.2 per cent cost of living adjustment (COLA) to municipal staff salaries; White stated the Village of Alix uses the WCB as a guide for COLA adjustments.
Coun. Ed Cole stated he was quite proud of the fact the Village of Alix hasn’t had to increase taxes in several years or go into debt for the major projects it’s undertaken.
The CAO chipped in at that point by noting the Village of Alix had reserves set aside to pay for certain projects, and the municipality had to dip into those reserves to a fair amount recently.
She noted councillors during budget deliberations will likely have to discuss whether or not to contribute to reserves again.
Under the Municipal Government Act (MGA) municipalities are required to approve a draft budget for the next three years before Dec. 31 of the current year.
Readers should note that municipalities face challenges under this requirement because they usually don’t exactly know what provincial government grants will look like the following year nor the changes, if any, coming to provincial requisitions.
Most municipalities rely greatly on provincial grants for things like infrastructure projects.
Hence, draft budgets passed before the Dec. 31 deadline are usually subject to revision the following spring when more information from the provincial government is made available.
Alix council unanimously approved the draft operating budgets as they were presented.
Alix to register for new recycling program
The Village of Alix will register for a new recycling program that includes rather important changes throughout the province. The decision was made at the Nov. 1 regular meeting of council.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White presented councillors with a report on the “extended producer responsibility” (EPR) regulatory framework introduced by the Government of Alberta.
White wanted to know if councillors would approve Alix registering for this program and also provided councillors with a report from Alberta Municipalities Association (AMA).
“This notification provides high level updates about changes coming for municipalities and recycling,” stated the AMA report which described the opening of registrations for the EPR.
“EPR is exactly what t sounds like,” noted the report succinctly. “Currently, producers sell products. When products reach their end of life they become waste, waste that is managed by municipalities. EPR extends the responsibility of end-of-life products back to producers.”
Coun. Barb Gilliat, Alix council’s representative to the regional waste commission, further explained ER means if you produce something you have a responsibility to recycle it now.
The CAO chimed in that essentially it means producers will bear responsibility for recycling products they make. White explained phase 1 of EPR will begin April of 2025 and that lots of other provinces already have programs like this in place.
“According to what we are being told, communities participating in the EPR program will no longer have to pay for recycling and service levels to residents would remain the same,” stated White’s memo.
The CAO went on to explain currently the Village of Alix sees between $32,000 to $34,000 of recycling costs billed which are then collected from village residents.
Coun. Tim Besuijen asked how EPR will be managed, to which Gilliat responded Alberta Recycling will manage it. She also pointed out the recycling station at the waste transfer site is Lacombe County’s responsibility and doesn’t involve Alix. Gilliat stated the village is only responsible for curb side service.
Besuijen stated, as he read through the reports, EPR sounded like a good idea but wondered how this would affect the village’s current recycling contractor. The CAO responded all indications are that EPR will assume existing recycling contracts but White pointed out this program is still in its very early stages.
Mayor Rob Fehr noted that people he’s talked to want to know if costs or services will be changed by EPR.
Coun. Gilliat wondered if an outfit produces a tin can or a fertilizer bag, does the outfit have to take these products back at the end of their lives?
“To me, that sounds very expensive,” said Gilliat.
Besuijen wondered how costs will be passed along.
The CAO stated that it sounded to her that such concerns will be handled at a high level within each producer. She added that EPR may affect the general public at the retail til.
The Mayor agreed. “Either way, consumer’s going to pay,” said Fehr.
The CAO noted that the Village of Alix doesn’t have to register for EPR and could continue to bill residents, but as councillors already noted the general public will likely bear the costs of recycling from producers as well.
Councillors unanimously passed a resolution that the Village of Alix register for the EPR before Dec. 31, 2023.
By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Nov 16, 2023 at 13:22