Everybody to pay the same amount
As reported last week, Slave Lake town council was leaning towards a per-lot flat tax to pay for road upgrades. This would see every piece of property in town (not counting the exempt ones) paying the same amount. It would replace the flawed local improvement levy system, where only directly-benefitting property owners were charged. And then only if they didn’t vote it down.
There will be no voting down the special tax.
To make the new levy system happen, council had to pass a ‘special tax bylaw.’ This had been prepared and was in front of council for discussion and a vote at its April 10 meeting.
Cutting to the chase, council approved a $200 per lot fee, to help pay for road work scheduled in the northwest part of town this year.
Per the rules imposed by the Municipal Government Act, such special tax levies for road improvements are specific to projects and are good for one year. It’s expected the $200 per lot levy will raise $446,800, which will account for about 25 per cent of the cost of fixing up the degraded 5th Ave. NW. It is further expected that provincial grant money will cover the rest.
One of the drawbacks of the per-lot system of road repair levies is that exempt properties don’t pay, in spite of benefiting just as much. These would be churches, schools and other government-owned properties. Another drawback is that council can’t just pick a figure and go with it, year after year. So in a year when the town is faced with some really expensive road repairs, the number could be much higher than $200 per lot. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, said the mayor.
Introducing council’s discussion on the matter, mayor Warman spoke about how council has been talking for two years of the need to deal with deteriorating roads. An engineering report was done and councillors took the time to examine every road. Based on that, a plan was drawn up for re-doing $24 million worth of roads over 10 years.
Warman said the special tax was the most fair of the various options, but not without its drawbacks.
“But I’m not prepared to do nothing,” he said.
All but one of his colleagues agreed with him.
“It’s the best option we have,” said councillor Joy McGregor.
“A big ditto,” said councillor Julie Brandle “I’m not interested in tying it to assessment. When we broached that last year people kind of lost their minds.”
Councillor Rebecca King’s was the dissenting voice.
“I would prefer to do it with assessment,” she said.
Council passed a Darin Busk motion by a 6 – 1 vote, with King opposed.