Starland County is feeling the pinch of inflation like every resident in Alberta and this is reflected in its budget and mill rate.
The County passed its budget and Tax Rate Bylaw at its council meeting on May 18. It calls for an approximate two per cent increase overall.
“Some went up, some went down. Corporate went up a little bit, linear went up a little bit,” explains CAO Christopher Robbie.
He notes that residential assessments were up as property prices across the province have been driven upwards.
“We are happy that we kept it at two per cent, and most of it was inflation of goods and services. We didn’t do any extra spending or projects, we kept the standard level of service. It seems to be working fairly well, but inflation remained challenging,” he said. “That is the biggest pressure on our budget.”
Starland County passed an operating budget of just over $16 million. Of that, $13.98 million will be made up by property tax. Starland saw a jump in its assessment with property values up overall by $32.4 million. Its total assessment was $700,266,360.
The county set its residential mill rate at 5.4154 and its non-residential rate at 20.6217. This is compared to 2022 at 5.3092 and 20.2174 respectively. Its farmland is at 14.1591 and machinery and equipment is at 20.6217.
The Drumheller and District Seniors Foundation requisition, which Starland County contributes to, was $411,731, up from $401,094.02 in 2022.
The county is hoping to boost its budget in the coming years by increasing its tax base. This year they hired an economic development officer.
“We felt it was time we focus on economic development projects that are in the county. They haven’t, in the last 10 years, had a focus on what ways the county should develop. That could be business parks, businesses, value-added agriculture or energy,” said Robbie. “These projects need a body to work them.”
He said the county is looking at small modular reactors to boost its energy sector.
“Our economic development officer is working hard on that, as well as an economic development strategy,” said Robbie.
“From an economic development standpoint, we are trying to look at ways to diversify our tax portfolio. You can’t have all residential, and you can’t all have corporate, you need it spread across small and large industry, housing.”