Tax rate passed unchanged from budget; town to borrow $5 million for fire hall

Sylvan Lake councillors opted to proceed with a previously planned 2.69 per cent increase

Sylvan Lake councillors opted to proceed with a previously planned 2.69 per cent increase in residential property tax rates and maintain commercial and industrial rates at last year’s level, when they passed the final two readings of a bylaw Monday night.

An increase in the assessment base and other changes since the budget was passed earlier this year mean the town should collect $100,000 more than initially anticipated.

Councillors opted to allocate that amount toward cost of the new fire hall, which could potentially mean the town needs to borrow that much less for the project.

However councillor Graham Parsons spoke in favour of lowering the tax rate for residential ratepayers. His was the only dissenting voice and he voted against both readings of the tax rate bylaw. Councillor Dale Plante had also supported reducing the residential rate at the previous meeting but was absent Monday night.

Reducing the tax rate would have meant savings of about $20 per residential property based on comparisons provided to councillors.

Mayor Sean McIntyre urged caution in allocating the money to a specific project. He noted there’d already been changes in the budget in one area and he expected changes in other areas that could impact the bottom line.

But when a motion was made to allocate $100,000 to the fire hall project, all councillors, including McIntyre voted in favour.

Combined assessment and tax notices will be mailed on May 30 with a due date of July 31, 2014.

At the same meeting, councillors unanimously passed second and third reading of a bylaw to borrow up to $5 million for construction of the new fire hall which is planned for Beacon Hill subdivision.

A public hearing was held about the borrowing earlier in the meeting and no residents or property owners attended to speak for or against it.

Darren Moore, director of finance, said the town is planning to borrow the money in September with the first payment due in March 2015.

Tendering of the project and awarding the contract is anticipated in the near future.