Sylvan Lake council approves 3% tax hike

Sylvan Lake council approved a three-per-cent tax rate increase on Monday night in the community’s first three-year budget.

Sylvan Lake council approved a three-per-cent tax rate increase on Monday night in the community’s first three-year budget.

The $32-million operating budget is up 10 per cent from this year’s $29.1 million. On the capital side, the budget is $40.2 million.

The town is billing the multi-year budget as a more transparent and effective way to demonstrate council’s objectives and key initiatives — as well as their impact on taxpayers.

Owners of a typical home assessed at $360,500 home can expect to see a $121 increase in the municipal portion of their taxes to $2,111 in 2015. That includes a $7 combined increase in transportation and recreation levies.

School taxes are not included and won’t be known until next year after the province crunches its numbers.

To encourage commercial growth, council will freeze non-residential taxes for the next two years, followed by a 1.5-per-cent increase in 2017.

Mayor Sean McIntyre said council and staff have put an immense amount of work into the three-year budgeting initiative.

Public feedback has been supportive. Most concerns have been centred on upcoming increases to water, sewer and garbage rates. Water and sewer rate increases are needed to replace aging pipes.

The residential flat rate for water is going up by $7, bringing the monthly flat rate charge to $22.91. Residential sewer flat rates are going up by $3, for a monthly flat charge of $16.33.

As well as passing the 2015 budget, council committed to “budget plans” for 2016 and 2017. These can be adjusted if unexpected expenses come up, but they are meant to provide a clear expectation of the town’s spending for the following two years.

They envision municipal tax increases of 3.7 per cent in 2016 and two per cent in 2017.

The town’s budget assumes new assessment of $75 million next year, and $60 million each of the two following years. Those conservative estimates are based on a five-year average new assessment growth of $65.5 million.

Among the major capital projects to begin next year are the $30.6-million NexSource Centre multiplex and a $6.2-million fire hall. A $700,000 spray park is also in the budget.

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