Specialized municipality status approved for the County
Status preserves split mill rate, provides stability for the future
Lac La Biche County’s application for specialized municipality status has been approved, meaning the municipality will continue to operate in the way that best suits its needs.
A specialized municipality is a type of local government structure, formed to handle a community’s unique features. There are only five other specialized municipalities in Alberta, but the status was recently granted to Lac La Biche County through an Order in Council by the provincial cabinet.
The County applied for this status in 2016 because of its mixture of urban centres and rural districts, and the split mill rate that it has used for the past several years. A split mill rate means the County can set different tax rates for properties in different areas.
The provincial regulation allowing this distinction expired earlier this year, but the granting of specialized municipality status means the County can continue to maintain its split mill rate indefinitely. This special tax structure is one way the County encourages small business in the hamlets of Lac La Biche and Plamondon, which are designated Urban Service Areas.
“We’ve been operating as a specialized municipality since the split mill rate was first introduced,” said Mayor Omer Moghrabi. “Now it is official and we can operate with renewed confidence, knowing we’re in the right category and the provincial government fully understands and appreciates our unique situation.”
Recent changes in the Municipal Government Act require that all municipalities' highest tax rates be no more than five times higher than their lowest rates. Lac La Biche County is continuing discussions with Alberta Municipal Affairs on this matter.
The status change takes effect on January 1, 2018. The County’s name and size will not be affected by the new status.