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Why do I pay taxes?
Every service costs money and every dollar comes from somewhere, for a municipality the largest revenue source, are property taxes. Below is a breakdown of different categories and the services they provide, if you make use of any of these services in a year then that is your tax money working for you.
The Municipal Council is the governing and legislative body for the Town of Peace River. The Council, is responsible for establishing priorities, policy direction, monitoring and evaluating the implementation of programs, and authorizing revenue collection and expenditures.
Council is composed of a Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and five Councillors. The Mayor and Council members are elected directly to Council and serve for a four-year term of office. The current term began in October 2013 and expires in October 2017. The Town of Peace River’s political and administrative decision-making structure includes the Council, the standing and special committees of Council, operating and support departments, various agencies and special purpose authorities.
Includes the Corporate Services Department, which provides strategic and integrated leadership to the management and staff of the municipality, and supports Council in the delivery of responsive and effective services for the community and residents of Peace River.
The Corporate Services Department is comprised of 12 full-time, non-union staff members and includes the following divisions:
- Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
- Planning & Development
- Human Resources
- Records Management
- Communications; including Information Systems
- Financial Management
- Cashier Services
- Payroll & Taxation
- Utilities & Business Licenses
- Accounts Payable/Receivable
Protective Services, fire & bylaw
Encompassing emergency management, fire services, bylaw and traffic enforcement, Protective Services is the department that ensures the Town’s physical safety.
The Town of Peace River Emergency Management Agency plans and coordinates emergency services and resources during major emergencies and disasters. The agency works with Town departments, corporations, neighbouring communities and non-profit agencies to increase Peace River’s capacity to be prepared for and recover more quickly from a disaster. This agency is comprised of senior management of the Town, RCMP and Alberta Health Services.
Peace River’s Fire Department in association with the Fire Department of the County of Northern Lights provides fire and rescue services to three municipalities, Town of Peace River, County of Northern Lights and the Municipal District of Peace. Utilizing 50 volunteers and three fulltime staff members spread across four halls the department responds to everything from alarm calls to hazardous materials. In 2014 the department handled 271 calls including 35 fire calls, 24 hazardous materials responses, 67 motor vehicle collisions, 137 alarm calls, seven technical rescues, and 13 miscellaneous calls.
Protective services also handle bylaw enforcement and have one fulltime Bylaw Enforcement officer on staff.
The Town also contracts Global Traffic Ltd. to enforce the Traffic Safety Act within the Town of Peace River boundaries via photo radar. The revenue generated is directed to a Safe Communities Fund for projects that benefit the community at Council’s discretion – Learn More.
Engineering, Transportation & Infrastructure
Without transportation and infrastructure, a municipality couldn’t function. In Peace River, the engineering department oversees transportation and infrastructure improvements and maintenance.
In addition to building roads, sidewalks and sewers they also manage the public works department, which handles snow removal in the winter, as well as maintenance for all Town-owned property.
This past year was a busy year for the engineering department. They improved accessibility for persons with disabilities at the main office, completed upgrades to the Shaftesbury water treatment plant, upgraded Pat’s Creek culvert, and completed the crossing of a utility line over the CN bridge. Additionally, a number of major projects took place at the airport to help expand its capacity to serve the region.
The department also serves as a repository of knowledge and expertise in areas such as GIS, project management, regulatory review, and contract tender advice.
Parks & Recreation
In Peace River, parks and recreation facilities fall under the auspices of the Community Services Department. With 17 km of walking trails and 22 ha of green space, there is a lot to oversee and maintain. The department handles all season activity focusing on facilities like the Baytex Energy Centre and Peace Regional Pool, as well as two sledding hills, during the winter months. In the spring and summer, that attention turns to the eight different ball diamonds in town, six sports fields, four tennis courts, 13 playgrounds, two larger parks (12 Foot Davis and Riverfront Park), as well as an off-leash dog park and a spray park. The Town stays in bloom with 65 hanging baskets downtown and over 7000 bedding plants, all of which is watered three times a week.
During the summer the parks and recreation section of the Community Services Department also organizes two summer day camps in July and August. Extreme Adventures is an adventure-based program for youth from 10 to 16-years-old and focuses on outdoor activities. Summer Fun is for children six to 10-years-old and features crafts, games, tours and recreationally based activities for children.
Library, Culture & Tourism
Maintaining and promoting the Town’s vibrant heritage and culture also falls to the Community Services department. They oversee the Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre, which is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the lives and events of the people in our community, both past, and present. With a vast collection of locally donated artifacts, photographs, maps, and diaries, staff curate new exhibits, address research requests and deliver relevant programming throughout the year.
The department also maintains two historic buildings in Town. The first, Athabasca Hall, is a historic resource and Peace River’s premier arts and culture facility. It plays host to a number of community events including the Peace Players theatre group. The other building is the Northern Alberta railways train station – recognized by the province as a historical landmark. The Building is currently owned by the Town, however, office space is leased to the Peace River and District Chamber of Commerce. The facility also doubles as a tourist information booth.
Community & Economic Development
A number of services fall under the community development budget, including our memberships to a number of regional entities, such as, Mighty Peace Tourism Association, Lac Cardinal Regional Economic Development Board and the Peace Region Economic Development Alliance. Membership in those organizations helps the Town manage economic and tourism development.
Physician recruitment and retention is a community development service, as is our commitment to STARS Air Ambulance, both items go to help improve the quality of healthcare in the town.
The Taxi Pass program, although operated by Community Services, falls under community development as well. This program provides subsidized taxi passes to those in need of mobility assistance.
Family and Community Support Services represent the social services wing of the Community Services department. It’s funded through an 80/20 funding partnership between the Government of Alberta, and municipalities. Provincially, the FCSS Program receives its mandate from the Family and Community Support Services Act and Regulation. The mandate of FCSS is “prevention”; under FCSS, communities design and deliver social programs that are preventive in nature to promote and enhance well-being among individuals, families, and communities.
Peace River FCSS is responsible for a wide range of social programming. For seniors there is Meals on Wheels Program, Service Provider for Alberta Seniors and Community Supports, Senior’s Fair – biannual, Volunteer Income Tax Program, Home Support Program, Snow Shoveling Program, and Senior’s Week. For adults there are Mental Health First Aid Workshops, Woman Wise Program, Suicide Prevention Workshops, Information and Referral, and the Community Directory. For youth there is the Roots of Empathy Program, Home Alone Program, Olweus Anti-Bullying Program, and a Family School Liaison Worker. FCSS Peace River also provides some general programming aimed at overall community development including; Newcomer Information, FCSS Supports Volunteers, Family and Youth Interagency Committee and email network, as well as the Grants to Groups Funding.
Policing services in the Town of Peace River are contracted to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). These costs include human resources such as the salaries of 12 Constables dedicated to the Town, three civilian support and administration staff, and commissionaires to assist in prisoner transfers. Peace River also pays a portion of the building costs associated with the detachment headquarters as well as, snow removal and grounds keeping.
How Are my taxes calculated?
The assessed value of a property is an estimate of the market value of the land and buildings in relation to similar properties. It is based on market conditions as of July 1st of the previous year and on the property’s physical condition and characteristics as of December 31st of the previous year. The purpose of property assessment is to distribute the property tax fairly among property owners within the municipality.
Property taxes are generated when the tax rate is applied to the assessed value of a property. The tax rate is composed of three parts:
In its annual budget, Town Council approves a number of expenditures required to support services and programs. Revenue derived from other sources such as grants, license fees, and user fees are subtracted from this amount. The balance remaining is the amount that must be raised through property taxes.
Education Tax Requisition (ASFF & Opted Out Boards)
Municipalities are required to collect education taxes on behalf of the Province of Alberta. The education tax rate is set once the Town receives the annual requisition from the Province.
North Peace Housing Requisition
The North Peace Housing Foundation tax rate is set once the Town receives the annual requisition from North Peace Housing Foundation.
To avoid penalty charges taxes must be paid by June 30th of each year, even if an assessment appeal is planned or the Combined Assessment and Property Tax Notice was not received.
Each year in May the Town sends a Combined Assessment and Property Tax Notice to property owners. The tax period covered is from January 1 to December 31.
Property taxes are due by June 30th of each year and are based upon the assessed value of a property and the tax rate. Property taxes are calculated by multiplying the assessed value of the property by the appropriate tax rate. (Please note that the tax rates listed on the Combined Assessment and Property Tax Notice are per $1,000 of assessed value.)
- Application to pay taxes by monthly installments form
- Monthly tax payment plan change of banking information request
- Monthly tax payment plan change of withdrawal date request
- Monthly tax payment plan cancellation request
- Pre-authorized debit agreement
- Refund for overpayment request
**It is the taxpayer’s responsibility to ensure that the Town has the correct mailing address.**
The following penalties are applied:
6% penalty on unpaid taxes as of Jul 1
6% penalty on unpaid taxes as of Aug 1
6% penalty on unpaid taxes as of Sep 1
18% penalty on unpaid balance as of Dec 31
What should I do if I don’t agree with my assessment?
Compare Your Assessment to Similar Properties
The assessment roll, which shows all property values within the Town of Peace River, is open for inspection during regular office hours at the Town Office.
Talk to the Assessor
Contact the Assessor from KCL Consulting at (780) 419-2158 or toll free at 1-888-419-2128 to discuss your property assessment. Their website is www.kcl-consulting.com .
File a Formal Appeal
If you are still certain that the assessment does not reflect what your property would likely sell for on the open market, you may file a written appeal to the Assessment Review Board. The reverse side of your Combined Assessment and Property Tax Notice explains the deadlines and steps you must take to file a formal appeal.
Each assessment in dispute requires a separate complaint form and a required fee. Section 460 of the Municipal Government Act and its regulations set out other requirements with which you must comply, including disclosure requirements. Please be advised that the Assessment Review Board will not hear any matters or reasons that are not clearly described on the complaint form.
Assessment Appeal Fees:
- Residential and Farmland: $35.00/parcel
- Non-residential: $150.00/parcel
To avoid penalty charges, you must pay your taxes by June 30th even if you plan to appeal your assessment.
Note: Under the Municipal Government Act, Section 460(6), “There is no right to make a complaint about any tax rate.” This means that you cannot appeal your taxes because you feel that they are too high. You may only appeal the assessment.
- Filing a property assessment and taxation complaint in Alberta
- Assessment Review Board complaint form
- Assessment Complaints Agent Authorization Form
Do I pay taxes if I have a designed manufactured home located at one of the trailer parks?
Yes. Under the Municipal Government Act, designated manufactured homes includes manufactured homes, mobile homes, modular homes, and travel trailers.
In most circumstances, all designated manufactured homes are assessable and taxable. This does NOT include land; the owner of the park is responsible for paying taxes on the land. In addition, homes moved into the municipality during the year will have the assessment prorated so that they are only taxed from the move-in date, provided the home owner has submitted a Manufactured Home Change Report during the appropriate tax year.
In order to complete the tax roll and ensure proper billing, manufactured home park residents are required to complete a Manufactured Home Change Report whenever there is a change in residency or ownership of a manufactured home. Required information includes the year, make, and the serial number of the manufactured home.
Note: Taxes are the responsibility of the current owner of the home, even if there are taxes in arrears. Always ensure that any outstanding taxes have been paid prior to purchasing a designated manufactured home.
Property Tax Exemptions
In the case where non-profit organizations own property, hold property under lease, license or permit that is used primarily for the purpose of the organization, the organization may be eligible for a property tax exemption.
How to Apply
To qualify for the property tax exemption, the non-profit organization must submit an application form with supporting information in the year preceding the taxation year. The application will then be reviewed according to the Municipal Government Act, section 362 (n) (i) to (v) and the Community Organization Property Tax Exemption Regulation A/R 281/98 as amended. If the application is successful, the property in whole or in portion will be exempt from paying property taxes the next taxation year.
The application deadline is October 20 of the year preceding the taxation year.
Community Organization Property Tax Exemption Application Form
Applications are to be submitted to:
P.O. Box 6600, Town of Peace River, Alberta T8S 1S4
Requirements for Qualification
- A non-profit organization can qualify only if it:
- Owns property, or holds property under a lease, license, or permit.
- Is incorporated under the Society Act, or an entity established under a federal law or law of Alberta.
- Uses the funds chiefly for the purposes of the organization and not for the benefit of the organization’s directors and employees.
- Does not restrict the use of the property within the terms and meaning outlined in the regulation.
Unless you are on the monthly payment plan* and your payments are up-to-date, all property taxes must be paid by June 30th.
Payment options are as follows:
- Cash, Cheque or Debit Card at the Town Office – Office hours are Monday to Thursday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed holidays)
- After office hours, you may drop your payment off in the DROP-OFF BOX located at the south-side entrance of the Town Office (please do not deposit cash in the mail slot).
- Post-dated Cheques – may only be post-dated up to and including the due date. Please make cheques payable to The Town of Peace River.
- Mail – must be postmarked by Canada Post no later than the due date.
- Internet Banking – available at most banks. Please note that when setting up your payment via internet banking, your customer id number/account number will be your six digit tax roll number.
- Telephone Banking – available at most banks.
* The monthly payment plan must be set up by December 15 of the year prior to the year in which the plan is to commence OR within one month of purchasing a property.*