One thing residents in municipalities across Alberta have in common is a wish their property taxes were smaller. One way municipalities help soften the financial blow is to offer tax rebates to people with monetary restrictions; for example, many communities offer rebates to seniors.
The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass has offered such a rebate to seniors since 2006. However, at the administration’s recommendation, council has opted to change the rebate program from its sliding scale to a set amount of $325.
The original rebate was calculated according to a four-year time frame: the property assessments and mill rate of four years ago were both compared to the current assessment and rate, and the net change factored into the amount of money returned as a rebate.
Administration has received about 100 applications for the rebate for the past three years, with tax rebates ranging from $5 to over $1,000; the estimated average payout for 2022 is expected to be $350.
CAO Patrick Thomas said the rebate program was designed to put a little extra money in the pockets of seniors with financial limitations but, since the reimbursement was based on property assessment, the larger payments were going to people with expensive properties who probably didn’t need the money.
“Typically the ones that truly need this are the ones that have the lower property value. However, the ones that have a lower property value receive less of the reimbursement, so it’s somewhat counterintuitive to what we’re trying to do,” said Thomas.
The process of checking applications and calculating rebate totals was time consuming, he added. Seniors’ rebates usually take until the end of August; with the set rebate, the process would finish by the end of June.
“It’s a very cumbersome process that definitely delays them receiving their rebates,” he said.
Establishing a yearly standard was a way for the municipality to create an equitable rebate, said Coun. Dean Ward.
“I know I’ve signed the cheques a couple years and you see someone get $7 and someone get $1,000,” he said. “It's going to be one of those things if you’re one of the people today that collect less than $325 you’re going to be happy, if you're above you’re not — I’m good with this approach.”
The $325 rebate is available for this year’s property taxes. Further information on the application process is available by calling the municipal office at 403-562-8833; the application form itself is available online at bit.ly/CNP-sr-rebate.
The next council meeting will be held Tuesday, June 7, 7 p.m. at council chambers.
Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze