No waiver of off-site levies for local business

Joe McWilliams

Lakeside Leader

A Slave Lake businessman’s effort to get town council to waive the off-site levies he owes did not work.

Murray Broadhead’s presentation to council was at the top of the agenda at the May 16 meeting. He owes something like $285,000 in off-site levies on his property on 2nd Ave. NW.

Broadhead told council he has “a scenario in my head,” on the subject. It wasn’t particularly clear from what followed what that scenario is, but the goal of it was plain enough: he wants to not have to pay the money and was in effect asking for the levies to be waived.

Council heard later in the meeting from the director of planning and development some of the history of the lot in question. Broadhead has been using it for storage and other things.

These require development permits, and a development permit is what triggers the off-site levy obligation. After years of back-and-forthing, the two parties agreed on payment in 2017, Laurie Skrynyk told council, which Broadhead signed. The agreement gave him five years to pay the levy, which term expired in 2022. Fourteen months later, she said, it’s administration’s view that it’s time to collect.

Accordingly, the motion recommended was that the town send a letter to Broadhead advising him that he should pay what he owes. If he doesn’t, legal action will be commenced.

Councillors were split on the issue. Councillors Brice Ferguson, Steve Adams and Julie Brandle all expressed leeriness about setting a bad precedent.

“If we do it for one,” said Ferguson, “we’ll have to do it for everyone,” leaving “a massive funding deficit in our budget.”

Taking the other side, Councillor Shawn Gramlich said $285,000 was a high price for someone to pay just to park equipment on his own property. His colleagues Kimberly Hughes and Francesca Ward apparently agreed with that, because they voted against the motion to proceed as recommended by administration. The motion passed by a 4 – 3 vote.

More on off-site levies

(This originally appeared in a Leader article in February of 2018)

If there’s one thing property developers don’t like, it’s off-site levies. However, many municipalities charge them, as a way of raising funds for infrastructure upgrades.

It’s standard practice, because grants and property taxes don’t nearly come close to raising enough money for new roads, sewer, water lines and upgrades to water plants and so on.

The theory goes that since development will inevitably force expensive extension of these essential components of infrastructure – and will be the chief beneficiaries of it – the developers should have to bear a proportionate share of the burden.

The town is trying to collect off-site levies owed on this 2nd Ave. NW lot.

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