|Clearwater County is a rural municipality in West Central Alberta.|
Photo and story by Helge Nome
Clearwater County is about to prepare tax notices for the 2012 year involving the collection of some $32.5 million from taxpayers. The bulk of these taxes will come from industries operating in the county, with the balance from land owning residents. About half of the taxes collected ($15+ million) will be passed on to the Province of Alberta to pay for the education of the area's youth; the rest is applied to the county's budget providing services to local residents.
A delegation from a group calling itself "Clearwater Rural Roots" appeared before the Clearwater County Council at its regular meeting on May 8 with questions about information released to date about tax increases in the budget for 2012 mentioned here on this blog. The delegation was led by Marianne Cole who made a presentation to Council based on an actual increase in her tax payable of some 7% over last year.
The interaction between the delegation and Clearwater County Council and staff went on for approximately 1.5 hours and involved a frank exchange of views from both sides. The delegation felt that, generally, not enough information or time had been made available by Council, to explain its position to the public, resulting in misunderstandings. Council, on the other hand, suggested that this information had been made available at recently held "open houses" conducted by councillors and staff.
At the end of the day, the figures shake out as follows: There will be an overall increase in tax money collected by the county of some $2.5 million over last year (when $30 million was collected). About $0.9 million of this increase is collected on behalf of the Province as a provincial education tax with the remaining $1.6 million augmenting the county budget. About $1.4 million of the increase comes from industrial operators within the county and the remaining $200,000 from resident taxpayers.