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Opinion

Former City Council Candidate says taxpayers mislead on tax increase

Published

Submitted as an Opinion by Calvin Goulet-Jones

1.89% Tax increase you say? I beg to differ.

Every Spring the city sends out a news release stating how much the city has increased our property taxes. Have you noticed something off with your taxes over the last few years? Now before we get into it, note that the city collects taxes in three ways. First they collect your property tax, next they collect the provincial education property tax, and third they collect the piper creek foundation taxation levy which I believe goes to seniors’ housing. The increases I am going to refer to take out the education and piper creek amounts as the city isn’t on control of those and focusses specifically on the tax revenue collected for the city. 

Let’s continue. 

In 2017 (May 1 to be exact) the City put out a news release saying the combined taxation increase was 1.1% for that year
In 2018 (April 30) the City put out a news release saying the combined tax increase was 1.5% for that year
In 2019 (April 29) the City put out a news release saying the combined tax increase was 1.89% for this year.

If you are like me you pay close attention to your taxes. I noticed an extreme variation between what the City News release stated and what we are actually taxed. And in case you’re wondering, no, the variation is not because of property value swings. 

Now hold onto your seat here. 

Red Deer Council (who seem to have smiles plastered on their faces every time they announce the tax rate increase) are either extremely ignorant or purposely deceptive as the property tax increases that you and I receive are not at all what they announce. 

When the city announces what the tax rate increase is, they are not actually announcing the tax rate, they are announcing the Budget Increase. This may seem somewhat similar but it is not especially In a city who’s growth has stagnated, and where businesses are fleeing downtown causing the tax base to decrease substantially. If you lose 2% of your revenue and increase your budget by 2% you have to make up that difference and that is done in the real tax rate which is called the Mill Rate. 

Red Deer’s administrations position (as sent to me in an email) is that “Mill rate changes are not indicative of tax rates”. Nothing could be further from the truth as your taxes are calculated by the Mill rate multiplied by your homes assessed value. When you are paying significantly more per $1000 of your house’s value than what they announce, you know that their statement that the mill rate not being indicative of tax rates is full of bologna. 

Lets look deeper where you will see Red Deer’s Mill rate increasing since the beginning of the largest recession our province has seen in a generation. The increases are mind blowing. 

Unbeknownst to many the 1.89% announced this year does not reflect the actual increases. The actual Mill rate increase was not 1.89% (remember this is just the city portion) it was a whopping 4.85%. That’s right,but still barely scratching the surface. In 2018, Red Deer’s 1.5% increase announcement was actually a 4.323% Mill rate increase. In 2017, the city’s 1.1% announcement was actually a 4.611% increase! 

To give some context Red Deer’s Population growth since 2015 has officially shrunk, we recorded 100807 people in 2015. The latest data has us at 99,832. Inflation since 2015 has been 6.21%, and Albertas GDP since 2015 has grown by less than 1%. The popular line during elections is that we are going to tax population growth + inflation. Well that only works if you actually follow through. The actual tax increases we have experienced since 2015 have been nearly THREE TIMES inflation + population growth. Since 2015 Red Deer residents have seen a whopping 17.014% increase, which is a 10.8% higher increase beyond inflation and population growth and it appears to me that council believes they have done a good job here. What a joke. 

Red Deerians know full well how hard this recession has hit us. Many of us are easily down 10% in our earnings and many more are down 20%, 30%, some even 40% in their yearly earnings since 2015. This doesn’t even include those who have been affected by unemployment. Council owes it to Red Deerians to do better and frankly Red Deerians owe it to themselves to ensure that in 2021 more than just 29% of the electorate show up to vote.

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Opinion

Did Red Deer miss out on $40 million due to inaction and procrastination?

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OPINION:  by Garfield Marks

Blackfalds’ new public works and parks facilities is now costing 40% less due to our economic slowdown. What was originally $8.3 million in expected costs for 8 acres will now cost $5 million for 10 acres.

According to The Advocate’s October 10th edition; “ Blackfalds has not been the only central Alberta municipality to reap the savings from the competitive pricing environment the lingering economic downturn has created.”

“ In recent years, Red Deer County ramped up its construction spending to take advantage of tenders that, in some cases, were coming in at half boom-time prices.”

The big question is; Did Red Deer miss out on possibly $40 million or more in savings in regard to our proposed Aquatic Centre?

If Blackfalds can get 20% more for 40% less and if the county is getting tenders back at 50% less, why not Red Deer?

What is wrong with this picture? Does Red Deer live in some alternate universe?

Blackfalds, Red Deer County, Sylvan Lake, Lacombe, and Penhold are investing in their facilities and growing while Red Deer holds back.

Red Deer is so focused on pinching pennies that millions of dollars in savings is passing us by. It reminds me of the joke, “Their ship came in but they were at the train station.”

I hope it is not too late.

We may still be able to save tens of millions, create jobs, provide much needed and long awaited facilities and expand our tourism industry.

Build our multi-use Aquatic Centre with a 51 metre pool on empty land at the corner of Hwy 2 and Hwy 11a for high visibility in a time of high savings and high unemployment and you could be seen as a visionary or at least a hero. What say you, city council, time for waking up or hitting the snooze button again.

 

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Alberta

Opinion writer Norman Wiebe says no matter who wins the election it’s time for the Republic of Alberta

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For a Freer Alberta

I continually hear a lot of talk concerning vote splitting during this Federal election campaign. This problem is one we’ve faced before and yes, suffered from. Do you vote your principles and values, or do you vote for the blue jersey regardless of what it’s become.

We destroyed the federal PC party once before when we turned Reform in Western Canada. We voted our principles and against corruption. We struggled with the fact that the good guys who stood on principles couldn’t seem to win in our federal electoral system, so compromises were made, a merger was done, and then we conservatives got our win.

After a CPC victory federally, we learned that it didn’t really help Albertans much anyway because even the most accomplished and intelligent politician couldn’t achieve the kind of changes required to free Alberta.

It seems to me that the dollars that flow through Federal transfers to eastern jurisdictions are a vital part of the vote buying process, and no one appears to be willing to risk messing around with that.

This process of transferring vast sums of wealth from one region to another is what helps every party to increase their chances of staying in power. If enough dollars are directed to those eastern jurisdictions, then possibly those votes are inclined your way, and this is what works against Alberta.

Ottawa takes from us no matter what party sits at the helm, and redistributes our wealth to buy votes for the next election. Some federal governments are less bad than others, but no matter what, Albertans are plundered by them all.

The concept of creating a new nation in Alberta is not new. Decades have passed since the last time we had a Trudeau aggressively attacking our economy, and in my opinion, this time must be the last. We have been robbed to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, denied our rights to move our products to market, and little will change under the current system of government.

We might get a pipeline built, and some small amount of relief, but the plunder will continue unabated. It’s certainly far worse under a Trudeau, but no matter who is PM, Albertans are often collateral damage to the political parties seeking favor from eastern jurisdictions.

So is the solution to not vote split and simply endure a less awful situation, or vote your principles and risk a really awful result. I guess I have always made the choice of hope over fear, of principle over compromise, but now I see only one choice.

I think it’s time we dispose of always choosing the lesser of two evils. I believe it’s time we chart our own course, take control of our own destiny and create a new nation that will be a shining example of how things can be done the right way.

We can shed the bad choices of future Canadian federal elections, and make something new. A government that is accountable and responsible. That is closer to the people it serves and follows the guidelines laid out by the peoples constitution.

A constitution that would guarantee our rights as individuals, as equals, protect the people and our property. Not a constitution that would rob from those with no political power, or discriminate based on your DNA.

We can establish a modern state that would be the envy of the world. Free markets, free trade, and a strong economy. A place where competition is the norm, monopolies and corruption are not given opportunity or support. Where transparency of government is a given, and politicians are held to a higher standard, not given a free pass.

Where freedom and liberty are core values not to be tampered with. Where charity and generosity are truly virtuous, and not seedy tools of corrupt government officials. Where merit is rewarded and cronyism crushed.

This is easily within the reach of Alberta, and our friends and neighboring provinces if they wish to join us. The only thing it requires is the will of the people to shed the fears and doubts our detractors constantly push. To ignore the anger of those who stand to lose access to our wallets, and those who imply we are property, and have no right to self determination.

I say it’s time for us Albertans to do the right thing, to create a new nation; not only for us, but for our children and future generations to come.

Norm Wiebe is a Financial Advisor and political policy enthusiast. He and his wife Lera, live in Red Deer with their two children. Norm uses facebook to promote ideas, so look for him there. https://www.facebook.com/norman.wiebe

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october, 2019

wed16oct6:00 pm11:00 pmBusiness of the Year Awards - Red Deer Chamber of Commerce6:00 pm - 11:00 pm Red Deer College

thu17oct6:30 pm8:30 pmACRYLIC POUR ART CLASSES6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

fri18oct7:00 pmLip Sync Battle7:00 pm MT Bo's Bar & Grill, 2310 50 Ave Event Organized By: The Outreach Centre

sat19oct9:00 am4:00 pmCoats 4 Kids & Charity Checkstop9:00 am - 4:00 pm Taylor Drive Event Organized By: The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Page

sat19oct10:00 am12:00 pmRed Deer River Naturalists Bird Focus Group Walk10:00 am - 12:00 pm MST Kerry Wood Nature Centre, 6300 45 Ave Event Organized By: Red Deer River Naturalists

sat26oct10:00 am12:00 pmRed Deer River Naturalists Bird Focus Group Walk10:00 am - 12:00 pm MST Maskepetoon Park Event Organized By: Red Deer River Naturalists

tue29oct(oct 29)1:00 amsun03nov(nov 3)1:00 amCanadian Finals Rodeo1:00 am - (november 3) 1:00 am Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

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