There was no further discussion when Sylvan Lake councillors voted unanimously to accept the 2013 budget which projects a 2.4 per cent increase in the tax rate.
The budget had been discussed and debated last month through several days of intense sessions before being released for input from taxpayers.
Mayor Susan Samson asked Director of Finance Darren Moore if any comments were received from residents as a result of information circulated, outside what councillors heard during their ‘Coffee with Council’ sessions. He replied no. None of the councillors elaborated on what they heard when talking to taxpayers at their coffee sessions.
There were no changes made to the budget.
The town’s operating budget for 2013 is $32,537,975 (including $4.1 million in amortization which is not funded in any part from taxation). The capital budget is $11.625 million.
Darren Moore, director of finance, in his report to council, indicated the municipal portion of the average property tax bill will increase $21.50.
The budget doesn’t increase the recreation levy. It will again collect $400,000 in 2013.
As a result, residential property owners will see a 1.3 per cent municipal tax increase. “This increase proposed is only to the municipal portion of the overall tax bill. Provincial education taxes will not be known until the province passes its budget in the spring,” he reported.
The tax rate increase will generate another $381,000 this year to fund town operations.
At the same meeting, councillors voted unanimously to increase water and sewer rates.
The monthly water flat rate is going up $5 for both residential and commercial users — from $10.91 to $15.91 for residential users and from $11.96 to $16.96 for commercial users.
The monthly wastewater flat rate is increasing $1 per month — from $12.33 to $13.33 for residential
users and from $19.80 to $20.80 for commercial users.
The consumption rates for both water and wastewater were not changed.
“Flat rates are intended to fund capital improvements, such as main replacements or water/wastewater treatment upgrades, while consumption charges are intended to fund the year-to-year operation,” wrote Public Works Manager John Watson in his report.
He proposed the increases “to partially fund future utility projects as identified in the 10 year capital plan”.
The rate increases will yield approximately $350,000 a year in increased revenue.
Councillors also approved a 20¢ per month ($2.40 per year) increase in the green box recycling charge, from $3.97 to $4.17.
This was done to maintain the program as self-funding. The increase will generate $11,160 in increased revenue this year.
These rate increases will take place on or about Jan. 15, according to the report.
Increases to some recreation, parks and culture fees were approved by councillors as well “to incorporate fees proposed in the 2013 budget.
The majority of the changes involved the aquatic centre and programs operated there. The family-single admission pass goes from $10 to $12 with the family-additional member fee increasing from $1 per to $2 per.
Changes also took place for certification courses, Bronze Star, Cross and Medallion courses, private lessons and swim lessons. The rates took effect Jan. 15.
The increases were proposed “to reflect the increasing costs associated with providing the programs and services at the Aquatic Centre,” wrote Ron Lebsack, director of leisure and protective services, in his report to council.
Answering a question from Councillor Laverne Asselstine, he noted staff did comparisons to determine the rates were similar to those used in other municipalities.