Special tax for paving delayed

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

As reported last week, Slave Lake town council had decided on a special per-lot tax to pay part of the cost of a road rehabilitation project. The matter was back before council on April 17 for formal approval, and the number had gone up a bit. It was now $215 per property.
However, council failed to get unanimous consent to go to third reading, so the bylaw enacting the special tax did not pass. Council scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday of this week to make the final motion.
“I don’t love this, but I can live with it,” said mayor Tyler Warman, leading off the discussion. He also added, somewhat mysteriously, “We’ve been dealing with some legal stuff behind the scenes.”
Roland Schmidt, who presented the report for council, was asked how the town will deal with the Local Improvement Levy (LIL) amounts for previous road projects that have yet to be collected. Council had previously talked about finding some other way of paying off the outstanding amount (apparently about $400,000), but Schmidt said, “We didn’t budget for those in 2018.”
At that, Warman said, “I have zero interest in collecting twice from those people,” and went on to say he would make a motion to have the town find another way to deal with the outstanding LIL amount. However, he didn’t get the chance, because the matter before them never got settled.
Councillor Rebecca King was not in favour of the per-lot paving tax levy. She had said during an earlier discussion she preferred the levy to be based on property value assessment. This method was rejected by her colleagues, because it would result in some property owners paying a lot more than others, although the benefit they derive from street improvements would be more or less equal.
When it came time to vote on the special tax bylaw, King voted ‘nay’ every time. According to the rules, when a council wants to give all three readings to a bylaw at the same meeting, it must give unanimous consent to go to third reading. King voted against that too, so the required third reading (vote) could not be held. With tax notices supposed to go out the first week of May, that presented a problem.
“We’ll have to have a special meeting,” advised town manager Brian Vance.

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