The Town of Bashaw was questioned by its local business association over how the municipality makes public contracts available to nearby contractors. The questions were voiced at the Nov. 21 regular meeting of council.
A delegation from the Bashaw and District Chamber of Commerce appeared before council to discuss two issues, one of which was what do members of the business group need to do to acquire larger capital projects in town.
The chamber representatives included Ty Wilson and Dan Zembal. The pair stated they noticed some larger work projects going to out-of-towners.
Mayor Rob McDonald answered that Bashaw area contractors need to participate. “They need to bid on them,” said the mayor.
When asked if low price is the only factor when a company wins a tender, the mayor answered, “It is mostly price,” but added that the town’s previous experience with a contractor can also affect the bid process and the fact a bidder is local could also be a factor.
The chamber pair noted that a local business may have to charge a bit more than out-of-towners for the same service, but by supporting that local contractor it ensures the service will be available in the future.
Mayor McDonald stated he couldn’t remember ever seeing a local contractor bid on a town job.
Town chief administrative officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller stated that according to provincial legislation large jobs over $75,000 in value must follow certain advertising and tender rules, while small jobs under $75,000 in value don’t necessarily have to be handled that way.
Fuller stated that typically for smaller jobs the town asks local contractors to bid but that bids from local contractors have been so high the town couldn’t afford them. She said insurance and WCB issues also affect the tendering process, but that the Town of Bashaw tries to include everyone.
“We try definitely to be fair,” said Fuller, adding that a recent roofing contract was given to a contractor out of Bawlf, a distance of about 81 kms from Bashaw.
The chamber representatives noted money paid to out-of-towners leaves the community, probably forever. Fuller responded the town buys all of its fuel locally and tries to buy all of its hardware locally, but that some products or services aren’t available in Bashaw.
Later, councillors debated the issue.
During discussion councillors stated the town could provide information to the community, perhaps on its website, explaining how it handles tendering and support for local business.
During the Chamber of Commerce presentation there were also comments made that Bashaw has “a high tax rate,” plus a statement that people seem surprised at how high Bashaw’s taxes are especially compared with the City of Red Deer.
The Government of Alberta’s Municipal Affairs ministry provides online information to the public about almost every municipality in Alberta, including financial indicators, financial statements and tax rate bylaws.
It appears based on 2022 tax rate bylaws Bashaw’s residential rate is indeed higher than Red Deer but Red Deer’s non-residential rate, used for business taxation, is higher than Bashaw’s.
Using the information available at www.municipalaffairs.alberta.ca, the 2022 Bashaw tax rate bylaw can be viewed: Bashaw’s residential/farmland mill rate is listed in the bylaw as 0.0096281 while the non-residential and machinery/equipment mill rate is 0.0109042.
In comparison, the Village of Alix, located 33 kms from Bashaw, also has its 2022 tax rate bylaw available on the same website: Alix’ residential tax rate is listed as 11.2565 while its non-residential and machinery/equipment tax rate is listed as 18.4730. To convert tax rate to mill rate, slide the decimal three places to the left.
Further in comparison, the Village of Clive, located 43 kms from Bashaw, also has its 2022 tax rate bylaw available on the same website: Clive has a single mill rate for residential, non-residential and machinery/equipment, listed as 0.009099.
Even further in comparison, the City of Red Deer’s 2022 tax rate bylaw is available on the same website and lists the following mill rates: single family residential 0.0072187, multiple family residential 0.0076518, non-residential 0.0148079, farm land 0.0093338 and machinery/equipment 0.0148079. Red Deer is located 86 kms from Bashaw.
Readers should note the terms “tax rate” and “mill rate” are often used interchangeably keeping in mind the decimal shift; also, please note mill rates are only one factor in the final calculation of a tax bill. Property value also plays an important role.