Country residential debate heats up

Builders in Nordale could see their taxes fall as the City of Prince Albert tries to spur development north of the river.

On Monday, Prince Albert council approved a motion that would see any new country residential construction in the area taxed at the same general mill rate as the Rural Municipality of Buckland. Currently, the average mill rate in the R.M. is 6.09, while the city residential mill rate sits at 7.74.

The decision could also see the city implement a new annual abatement for country residential property owners north of the river. The abatement would be funded by general mill rate taxes levied on new developments in the area.

The motion passed by a slim 4-3 margin during Monday’s executive committee meeting, and will still have to be finalized at a regular city council session.

Mayor Greg Dionne was the motion’s most passionate supporter. Dionne, who represented the area as Ward 2 councillor for two terms before running for mayor, said the move would help move things along in an area ripe for development.

“People are looking for acreages,” he said. “We have hundreds of acres. We own all the way to the mill, so let’s take an opportunity and start developing it and keep people in our city who want to live on three or four or five acres. They have that right, and I believe we should be helping them.”

Financial services director Steve Brown told council that any benefits from the new tax policy would take a while to materialize if development is slow. However, Dionne remained confident the plan was a good one.

“It’s not that we’re even downloading the money,” he said. “They have to build, and I believe we’ll be able to sell those lots in Nordale.”

Not all city councillors shared the mayor’s enthusiasm. Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Ogrodnick worried Prince Albert residents were already subsidizing rural residents through things like allowing them to use city facilities. The thought of giving country residential residents further incentives was something he couldn’t support.

“I don’t think we should be giving these people who border the R.M.’s a tax break,” Ogrodnick said. “They’re getting all the services we’re getting. We’re paying extra for sanitation, for water, for sewer, everything. We’re paying extra. Garbage pickup, we’re all paying extra for that, and so therefore, I don’t think we should reduce (taxes) to be honest.”

On average, property owners in the R.M. pay significantly less in property taxes than their Prince Albert country residential counterparts. According to a report from the city’s financial services department, Buckland residents would pay $1,922.49 in taxes on a $315,680 property. That number would jump by nearly $1,000 if the property was located in Nordale.

In addition to the higher taxes, country residential property owners do not receive water or sewer service from the city. However, the level of police and fire service received by residents in Nordale is noticeably different from those in Buckland.

In total, the city owns about 600 acres of undeveloped land north of Prince Albert, which amounts to roughly 20 five-acre lots.

@kerr_jas • jason.kerr@paherald.sk.ca

Thierman Financial