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Taxes hard on councils

It’s hard to figure out a complicated math problem when you don’t have all the numbers.
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It’s hard to figure out a complicated math problem when you don’t have all the numbers.

Turner Valley, Black Diamond, Foothills County and the Town of Okotoks were trying to figure out budgets in the last month without a key component: how much their respective municipalities have to collect for their respective school requisition.

Through no real fault of its own, the newly elected government hasn’t announced a budget for 2019 – afterall, the UCP majority government got elected in April and they are just getting their feet wet in the legislature.

Although the new government has made some indication that the status quo from 2018 maybe likely, without a concrete number for the education budget it leaves a giant hole for municipal councillors and administrators to try and figure out what to charge ratepayers as the actual numbers may not be released until the fall.

Foothills County took a highly-educated guess at predicting the school requisition rate, which represents about 30 per cent ($21.3 million) of its $71-million budget.

It’s the municipalities’ responsibilities to collect the requisition and then ship it off to Edmonton, where it will eventually be given to the respective school divisions.

That’s why school requisitions are prominent on your tax bill – a kind of ‘Don’t blame all of this on us’ notice.

It made sense years ago for municipalities to collect school requisition taxes – after all back then it was respective school divisions that set the taxation for education.

Since that time it’s been the Province.

Okotoks Councillor Tanya Thorn is right when she states the Province should collect the school tax. After all they set it.

It’s tough enough trying to work with numbers that aren’t there yet, but even more so when it is the municipality that takes the heat for asking for more money on the tax notices.