Kananaskis I.D. council approves tax rate decrease for 2024

Kananaskis residents will see some savings on their tax bills this year to reduce the impact of increased property assessment values in 2024.

The decrease, approved by Kananaskis Improvement District (KID) council, will see residents who have an assessed home valued at $478,222 in 2024 save $145 on their tax bills this coming year – or $12 per month – with a 5.7 per cent municipal tax rate decrease compared to 2023.

“The key thing to note is that while our municipal general mill rates decreased, property assessment values were up across the ID for both residential and commercial,” said KID council chair Melanie Gnyp in a statement. “Therefore, on average, actual tax bills will be higher this year to achieve the increase in required revenues by our 2024 municipal budget.”

On average, the assessment of a single-family home is $748,983, up 10 per cent or $85,684, compared to last year. The average mobile home – another predominant dwelling in KID – is valued at $51,615, up 33 per cent or $11,295.

A total of $1.6 million is required to fund KID municipal expenses in 2024, up $54,120 compared to the 2023 operating budget, which is an increase of about three per cent.

Council aims to distribute the tax burden fairly with a 23 per cent split paid by residential and 77 per cent by non-residential. The municipal tax rate for non-residential is also down 2.2 per cent from 2023, while property assessment values are up about 20 per cent.

“Our goal was to try to keep increases to tax bills to a minimum and also to set general mill rates so that the amount of year-over-year change would be relatively similar for both residential and commercial ratepayers,” said Gnyp.

Almost 30 per cent of the required taxes collected by KID in 2024 is for provincial tax requisitions not decided by the improvement district, with $621,228 going to the province's education tax and $31,322 to Bow Valley Regional Housing.

The 2024-26 operating budget – approved by KID council in March – requires an increase of $69,504 for protective services offered through the Kananaskis Emergency Services Centre. The increase accounts for accurate budgeting for the Canada Pension Plan, Workers’ Compensation Board Alberta, and salaries for fire personnel, increases in personal protection equipment requirements, and an increase in the rate of pay for non-resident firefighter program firefighters paid on call.

The budget also includes a significant decrease of about $519,791 in non-taxation revenues compared to 2023 as $577,453 was received primarily from lending KID-owned wildfire apparatus to provincial wildland fire response last year, leaving the improvement district with a surplus of at least $220,167 compared to the $357,286 cost for firefighters to respond to deployments across Alberta.

In the operating budget, there is an increase of $80,000 for contracted professional services to deliver on KID priorities in 2024 relating to stakeholder engagement and communications plans, a long-awaited economic impact assessment, a traffic impact assessment and a feasibility study for electric vehicle charging stations, all of which are covered by grants. Project management for telecommunications projects was removed from the proposed budget for further consideration later in 2024.

“We have been doing a good job of winning grants and continue to work toward maximizing our limited internally-generated revenues (i.e. provision of protective services training and helping with provincial wildfire deployments), so as to keep required revenues from taxation as low as possible,” said Gnyp.

The 2024-29 capital budget is expected to cost KID $1.38 million in its first year, with six new projects, six carry-forward projects and two recurring projects. Funding will be sourced primarily from grants, including the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) at 35 per cent, the Canada Community-Building Fund (CCBF) at 43 per cent, the Local Government Fiscal Framework (LGFF) at 13 per cent, and the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta at seven per cent.

MSI funding is being replaced by LGFF in 2024-25, but the MSI program will continue to be delivered until municipalities’ have used up all available MSI funding that was made before 2024.

Final payment to procure a new aerial fire truck at $1.44 million – approved in 2022 – will be split between 2024 and 2025, and will be paid by MSI funding at $1.1 million, with the rest coming from capital reserve. The truck will replace the current apparatus, which has been in service since 2001 and has reached a high-maintenance, high-cost part of its life cycle.

KID also plans to buy a wildland engine bush buggy that would serve to protect homes and facilities within KID from wildfire, in addition to supporting neighbouring communities and provincial wildfire deployments ahead of the current wildfire season at a total cost of $305,000, with $65,000 required in 2024.

Other major capital projects include the replacement of Kananaskis Emergency Services Centre’s disaster and incident command trailer, which is more than 20 years old and was originally converted from another use. The total project cost is estimated at $85,000, with proposed funding from LGFF.

To replace and maintain an estimated 150 water metres in KID, another $100,000 is proposed to be split between 2024 and future years, with funding from CCBF.

The 2024 tax rate is final once signed by Minister of Forestry and Parks Todd Loewen. Tax notices are expected to be sent out in June, assuming ministerial approval is received.

Jessica Lee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Rocky Mountain Outlook