Sylvan Lake taxes set to rise 3.5% overall

Homeowners in Sylvan Lake will pay an average of $27.10 more in taxes for 2012, director of finance Darren Moore said in his presentation to town council on Monday.

Homeowners in Sylvan Lake will pay an average of $27.10 more in taxes for 2012, director of finance Darren Moore said in his presentation to town council on Monday.

Sylvan Lake wraps its capital and operating items into one budget, totalling $26.9 million for 2012, an increase of about $540,000 over last year.

While costs continue to rise, the town’s total assessment on existing properties fell by one per cent, Moore reported to council.

New assessment that came on stream during the year was not sufficient to make up for the shortfall, Mayor Susan Samson said after council approved a budget that will see taxes rise by 3.5 per cent overall.

Taxes on residential properties will rise by 2.7 per cent on average while business taxes will go up by an average of 2.9 per cent.

The Recreation Levy is going up as well, said Moore. Budgeted at $300,000 in the past, the levey will jump to $400,000 in 2012, which add an average of $14.68 to residential tax bills.

The levy was raised to help fund a new community complex, with construction planned to start in 2013, said Moore.

Despite the increases, there have been very few complaints, which Samson attributes to the measures the town took to keep its ratepayers involved in the process.

“We had three intensive sessions on the budget, and then we had a brochure that went out to all the residents in the Town of Sylvan Lake. We also had three three-hour sessions called coffee with council, so that was an opportunity for people to talk to us in a more information setting.”

Feedback from the brochure and coffee sessions was so limited, council felt no pressure to rethink its plans, said Samson.

The increases will enable the town to continue with the services and amenities is ratepayers expect, she said.

“But also, we’re challenged with lesser dollars coming from the province and the federal government all the tie. We’re challenged to build the infrastructure that we need to do and to keep growing the community, so we were very cautious,” she said.

Capital projects to be covered through the 2012 budget include designing and seeking a location for a new Fire Hall, improvements on the Lakeshore Drive cabin area and parking, lighting and trail development in Centennial Park, construction of a dog park, design work on the community complex and modernization along 40th Street.

An additional $4.5 million will be spent upgrading Memorial Trail. However, that funding is coming from the province, which negotiated for the upgrades after closing some of the left-hand turns at the intersection of 50th Street and Hwy 12.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com