Town of Sylvan Lake passes 2019 tax rate, estimates education tax

Sylvan Lake and all municipalities have been left without an education tax from the Province

Town Council has approved the Tax Rate Bylaw for 2019. At the May 13 council meeting, council approved all three readings of the bylaw.

The tax rate for municipal residential properties is set at 5.744 per cent, an increase of 1.2 per cent from 2018.

Town Council previously approved the residential taxes increase by 1.2 per cent rather than the planned 2.74 per cent, thanks to a surprise surplus from 2018.

Council also previously approved no changes to the non-residential taxes for 2019, again thanks to the 2018 surplus.

READ MORE: 2018 Budget surplus gives Sylvan Lake residents lowers proposed taxes

When it came to the education tax, the Town was put in an unusual situation. Because the Province did not approve a budget before the election in April, and the current government says they will not be passing a budget until the fall, Town staff was put into a bit of a bind.

“I’ll admit, in my years working in municipal government, I have not come across this,” said Darren Moore, the Town’s finance director.

With no provincial budget set, municipalities across Alberta do not have an official education tax.

Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) has advised municipalities to estimate the education tax for 2019.

AUMA said they can use the 2018 education property tax or use the “2019 equalized assessment data” along with the 2018 education tax rates to come to their decision.

Moore suggested calculating the tax rates based on the “average increase in the dollar amount for education taxes over the last two years.”

This amount equals an increase of about $225,000, totalling the 2019 tax requisition at $6,824,993.

The education tax rate for non-residential properties is down slightly from 2018 at 3.733 per cent.

For residential properties the education tax rate is set at 2.64.

“When the Province passes a budget in the fall and sets the education tax amounts, the difference between the estimated amount and the actual will be reconciled as part of the Town’s year-end process and an adjustment will be made in 2020,” said Moore.

He continued to say if the estimate is less than what the Province sets, the shortfall will be added the 2020 education tax. On the other hand, if the Town has set them too high, it will offset the 2020 education tax levy.

Tax assessments will be mailed out by the Town on May 24, and are due by July 31.

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