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Sylvan Lake town council approves 2.4% tax hike

Sylvan Lake residents are apparently satisfied with the town’s spending plans that call for a 2.4 per cent municipal tax rate increase this year.

Town council unanimously passed the $28.4 million operating and $11.6 million capital budgets on Monday night, after delaying the vote for a month to give residents an opportunity to comment.

Council was told no new comments came forward from the public during that span.

Given that property assessments have dipped slightly in many cases, the town is estimating a typical house owner whose property was assessed at $297,000 will see their municipal taxes go up about 1.3 per cent. That would boost the bill to $1,583.90, an increase of $21.50 over 2012. A recreation levy of $61.18 is also added to bills.

Mayor Susan Samson was satisfied that the community’s needs will be met.

“In a perfect world you would wish for less of a tax increase, but when I look at the growth of this community and the demands on our infrastructure I am pleased that we came in at 2.4 per cent,” said Samson.

“We struggled. We had a lot of things on the table that got pushed off the table so we could keep it a reasonable rate and continue to look forward to attracting residents to our area.”

One resident had nothing but praise for the work of town staff and council.

Jordan Sinclair came to the open mic session that begins each council meeting to tell council that mayor and councillors are “way underpaid” for the work they do.

The mayor makes about $30,000 and councillors about half that.

“I appreciate your sentiments,” said Samson, who said council pay was determined by an independent committee that compares wages to those in similar-sized communities. The committee is due to review wages this year.

It’s been a pretty good year for the lakeside community. New construction produced about $45 million of new assessment and building permit numbers were up significantly over 2011.

However, some of the assessment growth was offset by an assessment loss of about $19 million, a symptom of a flat housing market that saw home prices drop about one per cent on average.

Much of the growth came from residential and the town would like to see more commercial growth in coming years.

A number of initiatives are planned for the coming year. Among them is a $25,000 project to work with the province to provide an enhanced beach in the provincial park on the lakeshore. Council looked at a proposal earlier this year that would have seen a pair of manufactured beaches created in the park to provide sandy areas to replace those lost to high lake levels.

Also, a $35,000 study will be done to gauge the quality of water flowing through Golf Course Creek into the lake.

Capital budget highlights include:

•$1 million for Phase 2 of 47th Avenue reconstruction

•$3.1 million for utility main upgrades

•$150,000 for trail development

•$172,000 for upgrades to Lions, Centennial and Four Seasons Parks



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