10% tax increase proposed for Morinville

Morinville taxpayers may need to find an extra $400 to cover their taxes and utilities next year as inflation and the Morinville Recreation Center blow the town’s budget.

Morinville Council received the first draft of its 2023 budget at its October 25 meeting.

The draft budget proposes a whopping 10% council tax hike, which if implemented would be the biggest in more than a decade. (The original 2022 budget proposed a 15.39% increase, but that was reduced to five.)

Budget documents show that a 10% tax increase would add approximately $271 in municipal taxes to a typical Morinville home of $339,614 (assuming a 1.5% growth). Utility revenue was expected to increase by about 6.8% due primarily to inflation, adding about $159 to the average homeowner’s bill.

The typical Morinville homeowner would pay approximately $4,806 in municipal taxes and utilities (not including seniors and education taxes, which have not been set by the city) if the budget were approved as is, either about $429 more than last year – roughly the price of 36 dozen Tim Hortons donuts or a Nintendo Switch ($399.99 at Best Buy at the time of this writing).

A residential increase of 10% would result in a non-residential increase of about 15% below the city’s 1 to 1.15 split rate, said the city’s chief financial officer Travis Nosko.

The average commercial owner in Morinville would pay about $8,172 in municipal taxes and $15,324 in utilities according to the proposed budget, about $1,930 more than last year.

Expensive MLCs

Nosko said much of Morinville’s current financial situation stems from its small non-residential tax base. The city collected less than half the nonresidential tax per capita than its regional neighbors and taxed nonresidential land almost 14% less than its neighbors. These and other factors place the city about 19% below the regional average in terms of per capita income.

Nosko said the Morinville recreation center was a significant cost to the city, especially since it opened “arguably the worst time in recorded history” (about a year before the coronavirus pandemic began). COVID-19). The pandemic has caused the center’s revenue forecast to plummet, and the city has had to subsidize it with some $2.9 million so far.

“None of this is meant to be an indictment of the need for the MLC,” Nosko said, saying no business case could have predicted the pandemic.

Com. Stephen Dafoe noted that the MLC was actually operating at about 30% cost recovery (53% if you factored in the Sturgeon County grant), which was close to the 40% target set in tax policy. from the city.

“We’re not doing as badly as we think.”

Maintenance budget

The council heard it would be a “maintenance budget” where the city would have to spend more to get the same service. Expenses increased by approximately 8%, including $1.04 million more for salaries, wages, benefits and training, $531,000 for inflation and $270,000 for increased reserves .

The administration has proposed adding about six full-time positions to deal with excessively high workloads associated with the hiring freeze imposed earlier this year. The council heard the city has seen a 25 per cent turnover this year due to overwork and burnout, with disability claims up 900 per cent from 2020.

Infrastructure Services Manager Jordan Betteridge proposed some $3.4 million in capital spending, which was well below the $8.4 million a year the city would need to spend to maintain its assets.

Betteridge said years of underfunding forced the city to leave broken water valves and use band-aid solutions, such as asphalt overlays that secured roads but blocked land drainage.

“Our infrastructure deficit is growing,” he noted, and structures in many parts of the city were nearing the end of their life.

“Some residents will be living in lower quality infrastructure in the near future.”

The proposed budget included some $1.4 million for road and sidewalk repairs and $625,000 for sewers and utilities, the council heard. There was also about $975,000 for new vehicles and equipment and $150,000 for a mandatory upgrade to fire department radios. The administration hoped to fund this work through its 2022 surplus (much of which was due to that year’s hiring freeze) and grants.

Nosko said the board will debate the budget changes on Nov. 8, with the public having a chance to weigh in at a Nov. 22 briefing. The final budget was to be approved on December 6.

The budget documents were available on www.morinville.ca/mairie/budget.aspx.

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