Lethbridge City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved both second and third reading of Bylaw 6284.
The bylaw outlines the 2021 municipal tax rate (or mill rate), which is determined by taking the City's budget divided by the total value of all properties within the City. An individual tax bill is calculated by multiplying tax rate with the assessment value of the individual property to ensure all property owners pay their portion of funds required to operate the City.
In December, City Council approved a zero per cent increase in the operating budget helping to minimize tax increases in Lethbridge. However, residents may see a tax increase on their bills for other reasons including a change to their property assessment (the value of your home, business or multi-family complex) or change in taxes collected by the Government of Alberta for the education tax and the Green Acres Foundation budget.
"In Lethbridge we are fortunate to enjoy a high quality of life for a reasonable cost of living," says Mayor Chris Spearman. "In the 2020 Resident Satisfaction survey, 94% rated the quality of life in Lethbridge as good or very good. City Council is working hard to curb tax increases to residents while still maintaining the high level of services residents expect. In fact, the increase to the municipal portion of the budget is expected to remain at 0 for 2021 and 2022."
Many in the community believe that the City of Lethbridge has the highest property taxes in Alberta. This myth comes when people compare our mill rate to other cities. This is not a fair comparison as we know house values are much different from city to city. A $300,000 house in Lethbridge cannot be compared to a $300,000 house in Calgary or Raymond. It is like comparing apples to oranges.
The stability of the economy in Lethbridge is a contributing factor in this component. The majority of the provincial towns and municipalities have seen declines in their assessment base while Lethbridge has stayed relatively constant over the last few years. Education taxes are distributed based on an assessment base's proportional share of the overall tax supported costs of operating the education program. Lethbridge, having a stronger assessment base, results in a proportionally larger share of the costs which increases education tax rates for Lethbridge residents for 2021.
The City of Lethbridge offers more services and has higher service levels than many other cities – which was confirmed by a third party in the City's Operational Reviews. Average property taxes and high service levels equals good value for home owners in Lethbridge.
House prices also stay very consistent in Lethbridge and are lower than most other Alberta municipalities. This means both a mortgage and property taxes will be lower compared to a similar home in other cities.
Paying property taxes is an investment in the community and in Lethbridge, it is one that comes with a very high rate of return. For more information visit www.lethbridge.ca/valueformoney.
All 2021 property tax notices will be mailed out at the end of May with a due date of June 30, 2021.
Last month, Council voted unanimously to approve changes to the 2021 property tax penalty dates. More information here: https://www.lethbridge.ca/NewsCentre/Pages/City-Council-approves-changes-to-2021-property-tax-penalty-dates-.aspx
For more information on how property taxes are calculated visit: www.lethbridge.ca/taxes.