Growth boosts Sylvan Lake’s bottom line

Sylvan Lake residents could get some unexpected tax relief next year.

Sylvan Lake residents could get some unexpected tax relief next year.

Town council gave local residents their first peak at the next three-year budget, and it proposes a 2.47 per cent municipal residential tax rate increase for 2016. That is down from the 3.7 per cent increase anticipated in last year’s plan.

However, a two per cent increase proposed for 2017 will increase to 2.96 per cent followed by 3.89 per cent in 2018.

Mayor Sean McIntyre said solid development growth in the community this year helped boost the municipality’s bottom line. As well, council was committed to keeping a tight rein on spending.

“Staff and council both recognized that given the economic circumstances in Alberta we need to do everything we can to deliver the highest level of services for the greatest value,” said McIntyre.

Council plans to maintain a freeze introduced for 2015 on non-residential tax rates for another year, a move meant to encourage more economic development and investment in the community.

The town began budgeting on three-year cycles last year to improve efficiency and give residents more clarity on long-term plans. Capital plans are based on 10-year cycles.

Under the system, first-year tax rates are set and estimated increases are prepared for the following two years. Given changing grant levels, growth or unforeseen developments those rates are subject to change — as happened this year.

However, McIntyre said, staff and council try to nail down future-year tax numbers as closely as they can, “but there is still room to change plans as circumstances change.

“As far as we’re concerned the numbers for 2017 and 2018 are as accurate as we can project at this time.”

An open house will be held on Dec. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Municipal Government Building to gather public feedback on the town’s spending plans.

Council expects to pass its final budget before the end of the year.