Some Town of Sylvan Lake residents will get a pleasant surprise when they open their tax notices this year.
Town council rolled back tax rates slightly on Monday. That means residents in areas of the town where assessments remained stable or dropped will pay lower property taxes this year.
Town director of finance Darren Moore said on Tuesday that residents in the Lakeview, Pierview and Central areas of the town will see property tax decreases around three per cent on average.
Not all residents will be so lucky. In other areas of town, tax increases will range from one to six per cent on average because of rising home values.
Moore said Marina Bay homeowners can expect increases in the eight per cent range as the shoreline subdivision of higher-end homes continues to prove popular with buyers, driving up assessments by eight per cent on average.
Fox Run property values also continued to rise, jumping seven per cent on average. Assessments are based on July 1, 2008, values.
Assessment values in Sylvan Lake have defied provincial trends, he said. Moore said he can’t say for sure why property values have continued on an upswing. The town’s resort appeal and proximity to Red Deer have traditionally been a popular combination for home buyers.
“I guess it just demonstrates people’s willingness to pay,” he said of the property value boost.
By comparison, property values decreased by 5.4 per cent on average in the City of Red Deer, according to numbers prepared by the city’s Assessment and Taxation Services Department. The drop followed two years of huge increases. In 2007, home values were up nearly 28 per cent, and in 2006, the increase was 38 per cent.
Sylvan Lake passed its $25-million 2009 budget in December. That’s up about $2 million from the previous year. An addition to the budget this year is a special levy to help support the town’s library. The levy will collect about $350,000 this year.
The town also passed a $13.4-million capital budget, which includes $7.5 million for a new RCMP building, on which construction will start soon, and $5.4 million for a new town hall. There is also $5.7 million worth of roadwork planned, including resurfacing Westview Drive and upgrading an intersection at Hwy 20 and 47th Avenue.
Like all Alberta communities, Sylvan Lake took a hit on its Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding from the province. The town got about $1 million, down from just under $1.3 million last year. The province announced in its April budget it was cutting back on the grants because of the economic downturn.
Moore said the town was able to avoid delaying or dropping any projects because it still had some MSI grants left over from last year.
The big question mark is what will happen next year when the town’s MSI grant was to soar to $3.7 million, partly to compensate for the expiration of another provincial funding program from the former premier Ralph Klein era. The town got $2.4 million under that program this year.
Tax notices will be mailed out on May 29. Taxes are due by July 31, not including those on an instalment plan.