The Government of Alberta will collect 15 per cent more in education tax from property owners in Cold Lake this year, the fifth straight year of double digit increases Cold Lake has seen.
“Council knows times are tough for a lot of families this year and that’s why we made the commitment to hold the line on municipal property taxes,” says Mayor Craig Copeland. “Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the education levy. The province has chosen to maintain their rate against assessment values that do not reflect the state of the economy or the situation many people are facing.”
The education levy is set by the province and collected for the province by municipalities.
“When the City sets its tax rate, we look at how much we need to collect and set a tax rate that achieves our goal. Booming property values have meant that our tax rate has gone down, even though our budget has increased. We always keep a close eye on any changes to our residents’ tax bill.
“We communicate what the change in their tax bill will be. Property values in northern communities can swing wildly, and people need to be able to plan ahead to pay their property taxes if they are going to keep their homes.”
The province has chosen to maintain a 32 per cent rate between the total education system costs and the education property tax requisition, resulting in a 6.8 per cent, or a $153 million, province-wide increase in the requisition. Because property values have risen faster in Cold Lake than in other parts of the province, Cold Lake residents will on average see a 15-per-cent hike in the amount they pay. The education levy is based on the previous year’s assessment, and so does not account for the sharp downturn in Cold Lake since that time.
“There are people who are having trouble keeping up with their tax bills and our staff is already working hard to help some families keep their homes through these tough times,” says Copeland. “This increase will hit many people hard when they’ve just been laid off. The assessed values of their homes don’t reflect the economy they are facing right now, and they won’t reflect the situation families will be facing when their tax bill arrives.”
In 2015 and 2014, Cold Lake residents saw an increase in the education levy of almost 11 per cent each year, while in 2013 the increase was nearly 13 per cent and in 2012 the increase was 12 per cent.