Sylvan Lake town council increases property taxes

Sylvan Lake town council decided to bump up tax rates by three per cent to put money aside for infrastructure in a recently approved $20-million operating budget.

Sylvan Lake town council decided to bump up tax rates by three per cent to put money aside for infrastructure in a recently approved $20-million operating budget.

The increase in tax rates is expected to generate about $300,000 and will be earmarked for future infrastructure projects. It will be combined with $450,000 already set aside in the capital budget to leave $750,000 for future roads and other projects.

A levy designed to save money for recreational projects was also increased to ensure cash is available when new facilities are needed.

The impact on taxpayers will vary. Since home and property values have decreased over the past year, some will see small decreases in their taxes.

Others, such as residents of Marina Bay where property values have increased almost two per cent, will see a tax increase in the neighbourhood of four per cent.

Darren Moore, the town’s director of finance, said preliminary results project declining property values during the economic downturn reduced the town’s $2-billion assessment base by about $40 million. New construction worth about $30 million offset most of that and additional assessment will be added during the year as projects are completed.

Council also voted to increase a recreational levy that has been in place for a number of years and was used most recently to help pay for the community’s new multiplex, said Moore.

The recreational fund has been drained and will be brought back to a break-even position in 2010. The fund will then be built up again to provide for future projects.

“Going forward, we want to have some money in reserves and/or maybe have some money available on an annual basis to put towards a debenture payment or a debt payment to fund future facilities like a new arena or a new curling rink,” said Moore.

As it gets closer to the time that new buildings will be required, annual contributions to the fund will likely be boosted further.

The $23-million capital budget includes $5.4 million to build a new town hall. Construction is expected to start in the fall of 2010. More work on Lakeshore Drive will also take place next year at a cost of around $6 million.

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