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Special levy could be coming back for a second go around

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The Town’s effort to implement a special service levy may have been shelved temporarily but the concept is still very much alive.
Town council discussed special service levies once more during last week’s Town council meeting including eyeing up bringing in a consulting firm to guide them on how best to go about handling such a levy again in the future should council ever decide to pursue it again.
“The Town has attempted to introduce a Special Service Levy which was intended to provide a fair tax rate for residents of the Town of The Pas and it is Council’s intention to move forward with the Special Service Levy concept,” read a memo to council from Town of The Pas Chief Administrative Officer Randi Salamanowicz that was presented at the meeting last Monday.
As part of the efforts to reinvigorate the special service levy concept, council has directed Salamanowicz to work with Way To Go Consulting to come forward with options on “how to move forward with the Special Service Levy.”
The Town’s attempt at a special service levy came to the forefront in March when the Town purposed a $900 per roll number levy for protective services. The levy would have seen all rolls pay the same $900 regardless of if they were a commercial or residential property, with a small portion of the levy beyond the $900 also relating the assessed value.
The levy was heavily panned by residents who turned out at a public hearing for the levy. While approximately 70 people came out, many of whom publicly addressed council with their displeasure over the levy, hundreds more signed letters opposing the levy as well.
The message at the time was heard loud and clear from council, who indicated prior to the meeting they would be voting against the levy.
“I want to start this meeting by stating we have heard your concerns; we have heard they loud and we have heard them clear to the point that this council in all likelihood is not voting in favor of proceeding with this by-law as it’s been presented,” Scott said in a statement opening that meeting.
While the by-law did not get approved by council, council members did make note they didn’t support the levy in its current form and weren’t opposed to such special levies as a whole, a sentiment which at times was echoed by members of the public who spoke to council.
It’s unclear if the Town is looking to put forward a new levy this year given there will be a municipal election in the fall. Councillor Andrew Forward expressed concern the levy would be used for political posturing if pushed forward later in 2018 during a Town council meeting on the topic in April.
Salamanowicz’s recommendation was to engage the services of Way To Go Consulting on developing an education session for the public with an opportunity to provide feedback on the options for a special levy.
“Involve the community, almost like a town hall (meeting),” said Scott last week. “I think the concept of a service levy is something that we are in favor of and everyone wants to move it forward, let’s find the best way to do that.”
Of note, Way To Go Consulting was also involved in the original service levy development, according to the Town, with the option of the $900 levy being one of three different options presented to Town council.
Salamanowicz told the Opasquia Times Tuesday that a date for the public meetings has not been set and it’s unclear if they would move ahead prior to the election set for October 24th.
“The whole idea behind this (public sessions) is it would ensure people would have the ability to speak and express their thoughts, ask questions, it would be more of an open house,” said Salamanowicz. “Like is there an amount (for the levy)? Is there an amount that’s ok to people? Or maybe not, we don’t know.”

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Trent Allen
EDITOR
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