Proposed Sylvan Lake tax rate increase to make up for decreased property values

The Town says residents can actually expect to pay less, despite the tax percentage increase

Sylvan Lake is increasing the tax rate for residents, but says the amount homeowners will pay will actually be a bit less.

Darren Moore, director of finance with the Town, says the increase in the tax per cent is to make up what is expected to be a decrease in property values in 2020.

At the budget open house on Dec. 10, Moore explained the amount a home owner pays in taxes is based on the property value of the home. The more expensive the home the higher the yearly taxes that are owed to the Town.

However this year, Moore said a three per cent decrease is expected on property values in Sylvan Lake. To make up for the shortfall this would create, the tax per cent will increase 2.88 per cent.

“We know how much money we need to keep our operational costs balanced, and this will keep it at the same level,” Moore said.

There is still room to change the tax rate in the spring of 2020, depending on how property values in town change.

Moore said if property values increase or stay the same, the tax rate will be decreased to ensure property owners are not paying more.

“We aren’t trying to make money off anyone,” Moore said.

According to the Town, a homeowner who’s property was valued at $350,000 in 2019 will actually end up paying roughly $4 less in taxes in 2020.

Before the budget meetings began in November, the Town performed a Community Satisfaction Survey to measure the “quality of municipal services” as well as the satisfaction of those services.

It showed the majority of those surveyed, 53 per cent, would prefer to see taxes increase by inflation to maintain services.

Joanne Gaudet, communications coordinator with the Town of Sylvan Lake, says that is exactly what is happening with this budget.

“We are maintaining our services to residents, without making any major cuts to services,” Gaudet said.

Gaudet recommends checking out the Property Tax and Assessment Calculator available to residents on the Town’s website sylvanlake.ca/MyProperty.

The calculator will give residents an idea of what their payment will be for 2020, once the property value assessments have come in. Those are expected to become available by the end of February.

“We also have the option of monthly payments through TIPP [Tax Installation Payment Plan],” said Gaudet.

Further to the tax rate increase, the 2020 budget is not proposing any additional increases for residents.

For 2020 the Town of Sylvan Lake is not proposing any utility rate increases, franchise fees increases, nor will there be increases on the transportation or recreation levies.

There is also no increase proposed for the non-residential tax rate, which has only been increased twice in the last seven years.

The 2020 budget focuses on offering more year-round events in Sylvan Lake, to increase traffic in the shoulder and winter seasons.

Another focus of the budget is enhancing snow removal services for residents as well as more online options to connect with the Town.

The operational budget is proposed to be $37,086,537 for 2020, and the capital budget is expected to be $16,811,000.

Town Council is expected to approve the budget at the Jan. 13 meeting of council.

Residents can submit their comments on the 2020 budget to communications@sylvanlake.ca

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