A five per cent property tax hike is being proposed for the Town of Okotoks' 2024 budget.
The Town is set to approve the budget during a meeting at the municipal centre on Nov. 27. The meeting is open to the public and starts at 8 a.m.
The five per cent tax increase is slightly higher than the four per cent hike that was forecast earlier this year, CAO Elaine Vincent said.
“It was proposed at four (per cent), once we've crunched all the numbers, it's sitting at about five per cent,” Vincent said.
The proposed increase would add about $2 million to Town revenue, she said, and cost the average homeowner about $140 more on their annual property tax bill.
The upcoming budget prioritizes safety and services and includes money for four full-time firefighters, nearly $400,000 for increased RCMP costs and an extra $250,000 for transit, she said.
Vincent said findings of the 2022 Citizen Satisfaction Survey suggest 63 per cent of respondents support a tax increase that is in line with the rate of inflation to maintain service levels.
Twenty-two per cent said they want service levels reduced.
During the meeting, Okotoks council will also decide if it wants to continue with a proposed increase to the natural gas franchise fee, pushing it from 20 per cent to the maximum 35 per cent. The fee is charged to natural gas customers and goes to the Town as revenue.
Earlier this year, the Town was considering a five per cent hike, from 20 to 25 per cent, to the natural gas franchise fee, Vincent said.
The proposal to increase the franchise fee to 35 per cent was met with pushback from the public when it was announced in September, but the Town said it would mean a smaller increase to property taxes.
“Council will have the feedback that we received from citizens,” Vincent said. “They will make the call on Nov. 27, that they’re going to continue to proceed with that 15 per cent increase, take it back to zero or keep the five per cent that was in the budget.”
Council will determine the direction it wants to take so that budget numbers can be finalized, Vincent said.
The fee would then be set at a council meeting in December, with the approval of the franchise fee bylaw and, if needed, a budget amendment, she said.
If council opts for the 15 per cent increase, it is expected to add about $1 million to the Town’s revenue, and cost about $82 per year for the average natural gas customer.
The 2023 budget included a property tax increase of 4.5 per cent.