February '15 Newsletter

Tax Hike Possible for Town Residents

Inflationary increases in operating costs and rising rates and requisitions from local services, including regional water, regional waste management, and the local and regional library systems, have some Town Councillors concerned to the point where they are saying “Brace yourselves, taxes may be going up!”

Town Council and Administration are currently working on the 2015 operating and capital budgets. First reading is scheduled on Feb. 3. The process has been especially challenging this year.

“We’re doing everything we can to bring in a balanced budget,” says Town CAO Josh Pyrcz. “The goal is always to get all of Council’s strategic priorities into the budget without raising taxes, but given some of these outside pressures, we’ll see what we are able to get done.”

Every $33,500 increase in the budget will mean a 1% increase in taxes. Councillors want Athabasca taxpayers to know and understand this.

After first reading of the draft budget has been given, it will be available for public consultation and members of the community can review the options presented. Concerned residents can then talk to Councillors for more information and insight, and to express any concerns they may have.

The process of preparing the Town’s budget includes a thorough examination of all costs and cost generators that may be related to or may affect items in the budget. All factors are taken into consideration with the intent being to find areas where costs can be appropriately cut.

“Any potential affect that it has on the tax rate, we will calculate after we’ve gone through that process,” Josh explains. “We are now looking at longer term planning and are working on a three-year operating budget and a 10-year capital plan.”

Where the Town budgeting process relates to increases and requests from services like the local water commission, waste management commission and library services, some of the options for budget cuts and rate adjustments are restricted.

“Council doesn’t make decisions on those rate increases or requisitions,” notes Josh. “The Town, being a member of the (respective) commissions, can’t choose not to pay. They have budgets, and we have agreed to abide by them.”

The rates charged to the Town by the service providers influence the user fees to be paid by the consumer. Since the costs recovered through user fees can have an impact on the tax rate bylaw, the Town is reviewing the fees for water, sewer and waste management so Council can determine if they will be increased and if so, by how much.

Not all Councillors agree with all of the rate hikes and requisitions received and some have stated that they are against some of them. While their intent is to do what they can to hold the line on lower taxes, a tax hike for Town taxpayers is potentially on the horizon.

Public input on the issue is welcome and encouraged. Please talk to a Town Councillor for more information and to express your opinions.

 

Requisition from Athabasca Regional Waste Management Services Commission

The Town of Athabasca’s portion of the 2015 requisition is $34,312. The total amount for all partners is $1,173,264. The figure for 2014 was $1,000,065.

The proposed increase in cost for waste pick-up services in Athabasca will be $1.50 per month per household, or $3.00 per billing cycle. The current charge is $51.56 and will increase to $54.56 per household per billing cycle, if approved by Council.

 

Rate Increase from Aspen Regional Water Services Commission

The current rate being charged to the Town of Athabasca is $1.77.6/m3. The 2015 rate will be $1.83.2/m3, an increase of about 3%.

The Water Commission operates on a cost recovery basis. Factors that can affect the rates charged for water services include Provincial legislation, grants and all costs of operations.

The Commission sets the rates charged to the Town of Athabasca. Town Council sets the rates for Town residents based on the purchase price of the water and the cost of operations and maintenance for Town water stations, the Town distribution system and related staff costs.

 

Requisition from Local and Regional Library systems

The local Athabasca library is requesting an increase of $5,485 over the 2014 amount of $47,266. Regionally, the Northern Lights Library System is requesting an increase of $531.49 over the 2014 amount of $14,578.

 

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Members-at-Large Needed for Three Town Boards

 

Are you looking for a unique way to serve the Athabasca community? A few opportunities are open for Town residents interested in serving the community in a board member capacity.

~ One member-at-large is required by Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) to represent the Town of Athabasca. Must be a Town resident.

~ One member-at-large is required for the Tourism and Economic Development Board for a one-year term with a possibility of renewal. Must be a Town resident.

~ One member-at-large is required for the Riverfront Design Review Committee for a four year term. This member must reside in the Town of Athabasca or Athabasca County.

Applications for the FCSS board and the Tourism and Economic Development Board will be received by the Town Office until the positions are filled.

Applications for the Riverfront Design Review Committee will be received by the Town Office and must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on February 4, 2015.

Letters of application should include reason for interest, any relevant experience, and contact information. The successful candidate for the FCSS board position will be required to obtain a criminal record check from the RCMP.

 

Family and Community Support Services

FCSS is an agency focusing on the provision of preventive social programs. Funding for the programs comes from the Provincial Government (80%) and from partnering municipalities (20%). The municipalities are the Town of Athabasca, the Village of Boyle, and Athabasca County.

Meetings are held on the second Monday of each month at the County office from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. In addition, members-at-large may also serve on sub-committees.

For more information, contact the manager of FCSS at 780-675-2623.

Town residents interested in this FCSS board position are invited to mail, email or deliver their letters of interest and supporting materials to the Town Office, attention Iryna Kennedy.

 

Tourism and Economic Development Board

Board members meet as required, typically 4 – 6 evening meetings per year. Notice is given in advance of each meeting. Knowledge in the areas of economic development and tourism would be a definite asset.

Town residents interested in this Tourism and Economic Development Board position are invited to mail, email or deliver their letters of interest and supporting materials to the Town Office, attention Iryna Kennedy.

 

Riverfront Design Review Committee

The purpose of this committee is to review the design of any building, sign, object (or landscape) to ensure compliance with the Athabasca Landing Area Redevelopment Plan and to recommend appropriate action to Town Council; and to work with stakeholders to assist Council in the design and implementation of the Riverfront Master Plan.

The committee typically meets on an as needed basis, however they will be meeting monthly from January to May (longer if necessary) on the second Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m.

Town of Athabasca or Athabasca County residents interested in this Riverfront Design Review Committee position are invited to mail, email or deliver their letters of interest and supporting materials to the Town Office, attention Rachel Ramey, by 4:30 p.m. on February 4.

 

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Property Tax Installment Plan

Did you know that the Town of Athabasca offers a property tax installment plan that gives qualifying property owners greater payment flexibility? Information and application forms are available at the Town Office and on the Town website.

The plan allows taxpayers to authorize twelve equal automatic monthly withdrawals, taken either on the 15th of the month or at the end of the month, depending on the applicant’s preference.

There is no cost to apply for the plan and no fees associated with the administration of it. When submitting an installment plan application, the applicant’s bank information and a VOID cheque must accompany the application form.

Please note that if you choose to withdraw from the plan, the Town Office requires written notice at least 10 business days (two weeks) prior to the next debit payment date.

The tax installment plan runs from January to December each year. The first six monthly automatic withdrawals are based on the previous year’s tax levy. After taxpayers receive their Taxation Notice in May, their automatic monthly withdrawals are adjusted in July to coincide with their notice.

In some cases someone other than the property owner may want to sign up for the plan; a renter, for example. To set the plan up under another name, a Property Owner Authorization form must be completed and submitted.

Once the installment plan is in effect, it is the plan participant’s responsibility to make certain that sufficient funds are available for each month’s automatic withdrawal. Missed payments are subject to a $25 service charge. If two consecutive payments are missed, the Town will automatically cancel the tax installment plan agreement.

If a participant withdraws from the plan or the plan is cancelled, all unpaid taxes become due and payable and are subject to any applicable penalties.

More information and the application forms can be found on the Town website at the following link: Town Tax Process and Installment Plan

 

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Summary of Building and Development Permits, 2014

The 2014 fourth-quarter summaries of building and development permits issued in the Town of Athabasca were released recently. While the total dollar amount for the fourth quarter was significantly lower than the same period in 2013, the total value of all permits issued in 2014 was still substantially higher than the 2013 total.

Totals for the fourth-quarter of each year were $214,650.00 for 2014, compared to $362,400.00 for 2013.

Totals for the entire year were $7,905,941.57 for 2014, compared to $6,344,363.00 for 2013.

When compared to 2013 figures, a few notable categories of development in 2014 included Commercial, with six permits valued at $4,279,000.00; Industrial, with three permits valued at $905,000; New Multiple Family Residence, with one permit valued at $400,000.00; Sheds, with four permits valued at $17,500.00; and Signs, with seven permits valued at $96,825.62.

Here are the development permit comparisons, showing figures for both the fourth quarter (Q4) and for the year in total:

New Single Family Residence:

2013 Q4: $220,000 (1 permit)  |  2013 Total: $2,019,685 (7 permits)

2014 Q4: $120,000 (1 permit)  |  2014 Total: $1,080,000 (5 permits)

New Multiple Family Residence:

2013 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2013 Total: $0 (0 permits)

2014 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2014 Total $400,000 (1 permit)

Single Family – Manufactured Homes

2013 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2013 Total: $168,500 (2 permits)

2014 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2014 Total: $112,560 (1 permit)

Placement of Existing Structure:

2013 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2013 Total: $0 (0 permits)

2014 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2014 Total: $0 (0 permits)

Institutional:

2013 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2013 Total: $1,500,000 (1 permit)

2014 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2014 Total: $   250,000 (1 permit)

Commercial:

2013 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2013 Total: $1,835,000 (2 permits)

2014 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2014 Total: $4,279,000 (6 permits)

Industrial:

2013 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2013 Total: $0 (0 permits)

2014 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2014 Total: $905,000 (3 permits)

Municipal:

2013 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2013 Total: $0 (0 permits)

2014 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2014 Total: $0 (0 permits)

Fences:

2013 Q4: $400  (1 permit)   |  2013 Total: $31,650.00 (15 permits)

2014 Q4: $1,500 (1 permit) |  2014 Total: $48,856.95 (13 permits)

Decks:

2013 Q4: $3,000 (1 permit)  |  2013 Total: $51,000 (12 permits)

2014 Q4: $1,850 (1 permit)  |  2014 Total: $25,750 (5 permits)

Garage:

2013 Q4: $12,000 (1 permit) | 2013 Total: $81,300 (5 permits)

2014 Q4: $0 (0 permits)        | 2014 Total: $92,000 (3 permits)

Sheds:

2013 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2013 Total: $0 (0 permits)

2014 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2014 Total: $17,500 (4 permits)

Other Developments:

2013 Q4: $104,500 (7 permits) |  2013 Total: $379,638 (24 permits)

2014 Q4: $  71,300 (7 permits) |  2014 Total: $598,449 (20 permits)

Home Occupations:

2013 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2013 Total: $0 (0 permits)

2014 Q4: $0 (0 permits)  |  2014 Total: $0 (3 permits)

Change of Use:

2013 Q4: $20,000 (1 permit) |  2013 Total: $251,500 (4 permits)

2014 Q4: $0 (0 permits)         |  2014 Total: $0 (0 permits)

Signs:

2013 Q4:   $2,500 (2 permits)  |  2013 Total: $26,090.00 (7 permits)

2014 Q4: $20,000 (2 permits)  |  2014 Total: $96,825.62 (7 permits)

 

Building Permits

The total number of permits for Building, Gas, Electrical, Plumbing and Private Sewage for the fourth quarter of 2014 came to 51, an increase of 10 over the 2013 total of 41.

Totals for the year came to 186 in 2014, compared to 169 in 2013.

The permit comparisons for both the fourth quarter and for the year in total are as follows:

Building:

2013 Q4: 9 permits  |  2013 Total: 61 permits

2014 Q4: 8 permits  |  2014 Total: 56 permits

Gas:

2013 Q4: 19 permits  |  2013 Total: 40 permits

2014 Q4: 21 permits  |  2014 Total: 51 permits

Electrical:

2013 Q4: 10 permits  |  2013 Total: 46 permits

2014 Q4: 14 permits  |  2014 Total: 52 permits

Plumbing:

2013 Q4: 3 permits  |  2013 Total: 21 permits

2014 Q4: 8 permits  |  2014 Total: 27 permits

Private Sewage:

2013 Q4: 0 permits  |  2013 Total: 1 permit

2014 Q4: 0 permits  |  2014 Total: 0 permits

 

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