The District of Sparwood adopted their Financial Plan bylaw and their Tax Rates bylaw in a meeting of council on May 5. The 2020 revenue and expenditures are set at approximately $41.4 million.
With property taxes continuing to provide the majority of income for the district, user fees and charges, as well as parcel taxes make up the remaining income stream. In 2019, the District of Sparwood gathered just over 68 per cent of their income from property taxes, 26 per cent from user fees and charges and the remaining amount from parcel taxes. The district’s objective for the upcoming years is to keep the proportion of revenue relative to taxes that is received from user fees consistent at 27 per cent of current levels of planned revenue.
According to budget documents from the District of Sparwood, “the system of property taxation is relatively easy to administer and understand. It provides a stable and consistent source of revenue for many services that are difficult or undesirable to fund on a user pay basis. These include services such as fire protection, bylaw enforcement, libraries and snow clearing. For these reasons, property value taxation will continue to be the major source of planned municipal revenue.”
The goal of the 2020-2024 financial plan is to maintain the relationship between all property tax classes, with the exception of growth and shrinkage. This means that council will apply the same tax rate increase across all property classes to ensure that any property tax increases are in proportion to all other tax payers.
“This practice also ensures that as a community grows and diversifies, the share of property tax will shift among the tax classes in proportion with that growth,” noted the District of Sparwood Financial Plan document.
Residential, recreation and farm properties will make up 24.6 per cent of the property value tax while major industry properties will make up 46.9 per cent. Class six, or business properties, will make up 12.4 per cent of the total while light industry will contribute 0.3 per cent and managed forests, 0.5 per cent. For 2020, the District of Sparwood will get just over $7.5 million from property value taxes.
There are however, permissive tax exemptions for those who qualify. In the new financial plan, the District of Sparwood noted that they will continue to provide permissive tax exemptions as long as eligibility criteria is met. First, the organization must be a registered nonprofit society. Council also considers an organization’s activities to help the community as well as the group’s financial status when making a decision.
According to the Financial Plan “the 2020-2024 strategic planning priorities identify economic diversification as a critical element to encourage investment and employment. This diversification will be encouraged through revitalization tax exemption programs.”