Town of Sylvan Lake proposes 2020 property taxes to remain unchanged

At a recent council meeting the first reading of the 2020 Tax Bylaw was passed

Sylvan Lake Town Council recently carried the first reading of the 2020 Tax Bylaw, which sees no change in residential tax from 2019.

In the 2020 Budget, the Town originally proposed an increase of 2.88 per cent on property taxes. This projected increase was to make up for a projected decrease in property assessment.

The overall assessment was down roughly 0.2 per cent from the year before. It was expected the assessments would be down roughly three per cent.

“…Administration is proposing, in addition to keeping the core municipal non-residential tax rate unchanged from 2019, that for 2020 the Town of Sylvan Lake also keep the core municipal residential tax rate the same as 2019,” Darren Moore, director of Corporate Services, said at the council meeting.

Keeping the property taxes the same as in 2019 is expected to have an effect on the operating budget. Moore says a shortfall of $228,000 is expected.

However, this shortfall will be made up from “cost cutting measures” the Town has put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The current Pandemic Financial Update shows a projected surplus of $195,000 should operations stay the same through the end of June. The projection includes the proposed ‘freezing’ of core municipal tax rates and the reduction in municipal tax revenue as a result of it.”

Cost cutting measures in place during the pandemic include temporary layoffs to part-time employees, cuts to training and travel for employees and a hiring freeze has been put into place.

In 2019, the Town had estimated the education property tax to levy on properties, due to the provincial election and the budget not being passed until the fall.

The amount estimated was higher than the final amount. The amount was $168,000.

“This amount has been factored into the 2020 property tax levy and has reduced the amounts levied to property owners this year,” Moore said.

The Province has increased the amount of the education property tax from last year by $115,658.

Most of the increase is on non-residential properties as the “equalized assessment increased more for these properties over residential properties.”

“The resulting residential education tax rate goes down for 2020 while the non-residential education tax rate goes up for 2020.”

Town Administration is also recommending Council does not pass a supplementary tax for 2020.

Moore says the lack of a supplementary tax in 2020 will give builders “some relief” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For 2020, this will result in an additional $40,000 having to be raised from the general municipal levy in the spring instead of that revenue coming from the supplementary tax,” Moore said, adding the supplementary tax will be reviewed again in 2021.

Assessment and taxation notices are being sent out later than normal this year, due to the current pandemic.

Notices will be sent out in Sylvan Lake on June 24. The Town has sent the assessment complaint deadline for Sept. 1, 2020.

Property taxes are due by Dec. 31, and the Aug. 1 and Sept. 1 penalties have been waived.

Any outstanding balances will be subject to a 14 per cent penalty beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

The second and third reading of the 2020 Tax Bylaw is expected to be given at the next council meeting on May 25.

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