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  |  Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014 06:00 am

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Taxes cut

County residents will pay about $93 less in taxes this year thanks to a bundle of cash from industrial growth.

Sturgeon County council signed off on its 2014 tax rate bylaw Tuesday. The bylaw authorizes a 4.28 per cent average tax hike, which is about 0.8 per cent less than was forecast by the 2014 budget.

The drop is possible because the county got about $143.1 million more in growth than expected, due in most part to a just-finished expansion by Williams Energy. That left the county with about $1.72 million in extra cash.

The extra growth also affects what the average homeowner pays towards the Alberta School Foundation Fund and the Sturgeon Seniors Foundation. Residents can now expect to pay about $36 less in school tax (instead of $43 more) and $9 less in seniors tax (instead of $4 more) due to this assessment growth.

Council put $850,000 of the extra cash towards transportation equipment purchases, about $606,889 into reserves, and the rest into the tax cut.

The average owner of a $415,000 home in the county will pay about $25 more in taxes this year overall as a result, said Rick Wojtkiw, the county’s general manager of corporate support – about $93 less than what had been predicted at budget time.

Tax assessments will be mailed out later this month.

Starkey rebuild starts next week

Sturgeon Valley residents will soon have a smoother drive to work now that the county has started to rebuild Starkey Road.

The $5.5 million rebuild of Starkey Road in Sturgeon County begins next week.

Starkey Road is a two-lane collector near the Sturgeon Valley Golf & Country Club used by residents to get to Hwy. 37. It’s been plagued for years by cracks, bumps, and collisions due to tight turns, heavy traffic and a sub-par subsurface.

A 2013 report to county council suggested that traffic along the road would triple to 3,000 cars a day by 2032 due to population growth. It called for an eventual realignment of the road at a cost of about $28 million.

This is the first phase of that project, said Brian Hartman, the county’s engineering manager. Starting this long weekend, crews will work to rip up and rebuild a 2.4 kilometre stretch of Starkey between Sturgeon and Coal Mine Road.

“We’re improving the road structure, installing drainage ditches on both sides of the road, and installing a paved multiuse trail,” Hartman said.

“It’s basically a complete road rebuild.”

Crews plan to replace the road’s sub-grade to address the cracks and bumps – a fix Hartman said should last for about 25 years.

They’ll also widen the road so that it’s eight metres wide all the way. The road currently narrows to about 6.5 metres in spots, which is hazardous.

Hartman said the road is also getting new turning, acceleration and deceleration lanes at each corner, as well as a new water line to improve local circulation. The actual alignment of the road won’t change at this point, he added.

While Starkey won’t completely close this summer, Hartman said it might be reduced to a one-way road at times (with cars from different directions taking turns using the lane).

Work on the project should wrap up by October. Hartman said the timing of the next phase (the actual re-alignment) would depend on the region’s growth. The re-alignment was not currently in the county’s three-year road plan.

Call Hartman at 780-939-8263 for details.

Pro North needs fire water

A local businessman wants county council to spend up to $650,000 to bring fire protection to the Pro North Industrial Park.

Dwayne Bendfeld, who has run Milepost Manufacturing in Sturgeon County for about 30 years, spoke to council Tuesday about obstacles to development in the Pro North Industrial Park.

“We seem to be the little park that’s been forgotten,” he said.

Much of the park is without water for fire protection, he explained. This means that local owners can’t build structures that are bigger than 6,000 square feet –many want to create ones that are more than twice that size.

Bendfeld proposed that the county spend $300,000 to $650,000 to build a dugout and pump station on a plot of county reserve in the park. This would give fire protection to the whole park and let owners expand their businesses. It would also let him fill in a dugout on his own land that he uses for fire protection so he can build on it.

“It’s not that much money and we can get more tax money for buildings instead of storage lots,” he said.

“We can make this a very viable industrial park.”

Mayor Tom Flynn said council would meet with local business owners to discuss this idea.


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