The Town of Strathmore's 2023 proposed budget showed we could be seeing a tax increase to maintain current services while budgeting for inflation.
Town of Strathmore CAO Kevin Scoble explained the recent citizen satisfaction survey showed that this was the most favourable way to approach taxes and services for 2023, so the Town worked to find cost saving measures to keep spending under control.
A 4.9% tax increase for both residents and businesses have been proposed; for comparison last year's tax increase was 3.9% for residential taxes, and 5.9% for business taxes.
"This represents both a prudent approach to the current year, to continue current programs and services and maintain current infrastructure while not undertaking any significant capital works or new initiatives or programs, but also a look towards a sustainable future with provision to begin reestablishing reserves in 2023," he said.
Scoble added the current tax split between residential and non-residential taxes is around 80%-20%. The last five years have hovered around that mark, but Scoble said the Town is working to put more emphasis on non-residential taxes to ease the burden on residents. The eventual goal is a 70%-30% split, as per the Municipal Development plan. This split would mean that for every $100 of diesel put into snow plows, $70 would be paid by residents and $30 by businesses.
This 70-30 split would line Strathmore up with comparable communities outside of the Calgary and Edmonton metropolitan regional boards
The eventual goal is to have Strathmore more in line with communities like Brooks (68-32 split) and Drumheller (63-37 split), since these are also not part of the Calgary Metropolitan Board. Scoble explained that Strathmore's 70-30 split goal doesn't simply mean passing the tax burdens onto businesses though. Moving to this split is done through other means.
"It's about densification of residential growth, and organic growth of businesses, meaning expansion of existing businesses and attraction of new businesses. So residential densification is consistent with council's strategic plan and is becoming a necessity with housing affordability across the spectrum of demographics, from below market offerings to first time home buyers. This doesn't mean that Strathmore will not be building residential homes, but it does mean that it will build more of that missing middle in housing offerings, making services and programs more efficient for those units, and conserving agricultural lands."
Scoble said Phyto Organix is an example of this organic growth of business he mentioned. If this tax strategy is adopted, Scoble added it will be a 10-20 year project, and is not a quick fix.
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