Council gives readings of tax bylaws, discusses waterfront

Two bylaws calling for the increase in local taxes in Sylvan Lake were passed. Bylaws relating to the waterfront were also discussed.

  • Apr. 20, 2017 10:00 a.m.

Tax Increases

Two bylaws relating to local rates of taxation were passed at the April 10 regular meeting of the Sylvan Lake Town Council. Bylaw 1737, which proposes 2017 tax rates and Bylaw 1738, which proposes the supplementary tax for 2017, were both given first reading by Council.

Both entail an increase local taxes within the town. Specifically, there will be an increase of 0.2 per cent to both municipal residential and non-residential taxes.

Bylaw 1737 will lead to the total combined residential tax rate increasing to 8.742 per cent, compared to 8.563 per cent in 2016. The total combined commercial rate will increase to 14.359 per cent, versus 14.211 per cent in 2016.

The municipal tax rate proposed for residential properties will increase by 1.5 per cent, and the municipal tax rate proposed for non-residential properties will increase by 1.3 per cent.

The assessment growth projection used in preparing the Town’s 2017 budget was $40 million, and the final amount of assessment growth for 2017 was approximately $45 million. Changes in assessment value vary by neighbourhood, so the specific impact of the tax increase will also vary, from home to home.

A report to Council entailed in the documentation for the April 10 meeting indicated that the 0.2 per cent increase is “over and above the amount necessary to compensate for average decrease in market values,” which, at budget time, were anticipated to decrease by five per cent.

The average market value decrease for residential properties in Sylvan Lake, from last year, was 1.4 per cent. The average residential property owner can anticipate a 0.15 per cent increase in municipal taxes in 2017, compared to last year.

“These are bylaws that permit us to proceed now, because we have all the educational tax changes and our assessments in,” said Joanne Gaudet, communications officer with the Town of Sylvan Lake.

Gaudet noted that the provincial school tax requisition has increased by four per cent, and that the rate for those is set by the province.

The school non-residential tax rate will increase to 3.717 from 3.701 per cent, while the school residential tax rate will increase from 2.534 per cent from 2.441 in 2016.

Lakefront discussion

Much of the discussion at the April 10 meeting was focused on bylaws relating to the lakefront. Council passed second and third readings of a Bylaw 1732, which calls for the establishment of a 400 sq. ft. area in the northeast corner of Centennial Park, to be used by water recreation vendors. Water recreation vendors, by writ of the bylaw, will be excluded from all other sites in the park.

The bylaw also expands the location for Food Truck Thursday, permitting larger fruit and vegetable vendors in a single location within Centennial Park.

Some of Council expressed disapprobation at the idea of allowing vendors to operate at the sites set out in the bylaw. Mayor Sean McIntyre said he was uncomfortable with allowing vendors at both sites, and Coun. Jas Payne noted that he didn’t like the idea of business being done at the most beautiful and scenic parts of the park.

After a discussion of the implications of the bylaw, Council directed Administration to develop a policy, within the bylaw, that would ensure special events take priority over vendors, in the event of a conflict in location.

Council approved the event application for Shake the Lake, a festival that will take place this coming August long weekend. The approval entailed a number of conditions, including the need for a proven certificate of insurance, a special deposit to cover damage and cleanup of $10,000, an improved security plan, parking regulations that include parking attendants and a takedown deadline of Aug. 8, at 3 p.m.

A temporary name was decided upon for lands acquired by the Town at 5104 Lakeshore Drive. The property will be named Lakefront Park. This is the first time the Town has purchased lakefront property. In a call with the Sylvan Lake News Gaudet stated there will be an extensive period of public consultation before any decision will be made as to what will be done with the property.

In the meantime, Lakefront Park will be used as a green space, with park benches and picnic tables eventually being set up.

“Since we’re doing that, we needed a formal, temporary name for the location until the full strategy of public consultation comes to fruition,” said Gaudet. “The name may change to something more glamorous at a later date, but in the meantime, it’s just Lakefront Park.”

Pay parking

The amount of money Council is putting toward a paid visitor parking system within the Town has gone up. Council decided to increase funds entailed in the contract awarded to Cale Systems by $17,000. This funds are going toward a total project amount that will not exceed $138,500.

The additional funding will be used to provide online license plate registration for residents, since as of May 15, visitors to Sylvan Lake will be required to pay for parking in the Waterfront District.

“Residents will be identified and registered, so they can register two vehicles online, as opposed to having to come in and call the Town,” said Gaudet. “It allow residents in those resident-only zones to be able to go online and register their guests’ vehicles and their own vehicles that are parking on the street at any time, as opposed to having them put something on their dashboard.”