Okotokians will be seeing an increase on their property tax bills, and the Town of Okotoks wants to make it clear as to why that is.

Property owners in town will see an 11 per cent increase in the provincial education requisition portion of their property taxes, even though the province announced a freeze on those rates in their 2024 budget.

Alberta municipalities must collect education tax on behalf of the provincial government through the property taxation system.

While the province didn’t increase the tax rate, they will see increased revenue this year compared to last year due to an overall increase in property value provincewide.

On average, education requisition rose 9 per cent across the province, however, a higher-than-average increase in property assessments in Okotoks means it will be 11 per cent higher for Okotokians.

The town will be collecting $16.7 million in education requisition this year compared to $15.7 million last year, which will be an increase of $130 for the average Okotoks homeowner.

While council did approve a 4.6 per cent increase during budget talks, they announced it at the time the decision was made. In contrast, the provincial government announced a freeze on education tax despite the fact that they will see increased revenue.

“My concern is that the province gets to give the message that ‘We’re keeping education tax flat, we’re not increasing it,’” says Mayor Tanya Thorn. “So even though they’ve kept the rate the same, all of us, as Albertans, are paying more. In Okotoks, we’re paying 1.6 million dollars more. So even though it sounds like there’s no tax increase, there’s a 1.6-million-dollar tax increase.”

She’s concerned that the increase on the provincial side will be seen as a decision from the Town of Okotoks to increase taxes to residents since they’re the ones who have to collect it.

“There should be two tax bills that go out... I should be able to send out my municipal tax bill with whatever requisition I collect, which is Westwinds and the Designated Industrial Properties, which is very nominal, I'm fine with my tax bill going out and collecting those two. Province, issue your own other tax bill under the Government of Alberta heading, and you go out and collect it. That's the biggest concern for me, as a municipality, it gets lost in detail because it's coming out under my letterhead saying I'm collecting this, so whether they have an increase or a decrease, it falls on my side to communicate it."

Thorn says that in the past, provincial tax rates have been altered to reflect changes in property value.

“They would have had that indicator because we submit assessment values in July or after that July 1st date, so they know assessment went up, they still chose to keep the tax rate flat. In the past, I can’t comment to this government, but past governments, when assessment has been dropping in the province, they’ve changed that tax rate to result in an increase.”

More information on property assessment and education requisition can be seen on the town’s website.