How would Hythe’s dissolution work?: Joining the county will have impact on taxes, facilities

·3 min read

Hythe and County of Grande Prairie residents are pondering what the future will hold if the village becomes the county’s newest hamlet.

“We are working to understand the implications for the county and our residents and businesses,” said county reeve Leanne Beaupre.

Beaupre noted county residents can’t vote on Hythe’s dissolution, but county council and administration are open to communication.

“There will be a transition period - (dissolution) won’t happen on March 31, there will be a month or two-month period (after the vote),” said mayor Brian Peterson.

“Administration has already had some high-level discussions regarding a potential transition,” Beaupre added.

Many of the questions residents have revolve around taxes. County tax rates would apply to Hythe in the event of dissolution, according to the viability review report.

The county’s residential municipal mill rate (4.0450 in 2020) is significantly less than Hythe’s (8.2390). The county non-residential rate (13.5810) also compares favourably to Hythe’s (18.1272).

The county has the option to impose extra taxes on Hythe properties to repay village debt, according to Municipal Affairs.

At the beginning of 2020 Hythe had a debt of $299,795 and an available debt limit of approximately $2.5 million, according to the report.

The report also states county council can impose fees in Hythe for programs or infrastructure that benefit the hamlet exclusively.

After dissolution the county would also be eligible for $1.2 million in provincial grants for capital projects and administration in Hythe, according to Municipal Affairs.

Town & Country News asked Beaupre about the impact on taxes for other county residents.

“Dissolution would have fiscal implications for the County of Grande Prairie, although it is too early to define what those might be,” Beaupre said.

According to the viability report, the Hamlet of Hythe would become part of the county’s electoral Division 7.

When the Town of Grande Cache dissolved in 2019 and became part of the Municipal District of Greenview, it was awarded two seats on Greenview council.

Peterson said he accepts Hythe won’t receive its own seat, instead sharing a councillor with other Division 7 residents.

“It’s population-based, and Grande Cache is a significant portion of all Greenview,” he said.

The county would also assume Hythe’s assets after dissolution.

Peterson said the county would decide what to do with the village office building.

The county would have to honour Hythe’s agreements with village staff, whether that means keeping them on or giving them severance, Peterson added.

Currently, the Village of Hythe has a staff of eight.

Village office:

-The CAO and community development clerk are full-time

-Part-time positions include the FCSS co-ordinator, and two in administration and accounting.

Public works:

-Three full-time positions

According to the report, the county will continue providing Hythe’s current utilities until completing a full assessment of water and wastewater systems.

Hythe’s agreement for garbage curbside pickup would transfer to the county.

Ownership of Hythe’s rec facilities would also transfer to the county, according to the report.

Hythe’s library board would dissolve, and the county library board would assume responsibility for budgeting for the Hythe library, which would continue to operate.

Hythe Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) is currently independent of county FCSS and if the village dissolves, Peterson said he expects Hythe FCSS will be absorbed into the county department.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News