Hythe residents will decide over the next two days whether or not the village will dissolve and become a hamlet of the County of Grande Prairie. A vote on the village’s viability will be held between 4 and 8 p.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Hythe Legion.
There are just two options to choose from, either to remain a village and implement changes to become viable or to dissolve. The Village of Hythe requested a viability review from the province in April 2020, revealing it is struggling with financial challenges and cant cover its rising operational costs and infrastructure needs.
At the time, it was explained that, in part, it does not collect on more than $500,000 in taxes from 40 per cent of its tax base, as it is government buildings, churches, and schools. Those taxes were originally paid by the provincial government, but that later shifted to a provincial grant that has reportedly decreased over the years to nothing.
In a letter to residents earlier this month, Mayor Brian Peterson said an audit found a $14.2 million infrastructure deficit requirement over the next 10 years, and an additional backlog of infrastructure repairs totalling $8.5 million was identified for 2031 to 2040. He notes that the cut to its Municipal Sustainability Initiative grant is more than expected, at 25 per cent over the next three years, and that assessed property values for 2021 dropped 10 per cent.
“We would need to increase taxes by 150 per cent to meet the recommendations,” he says, explaining that if residents vote for Hythe to remain its own entity, the village will be mandated to implement the recommendations of its viability review. “It will be a 150 per cent tax increase in year one and that we anticipate that it would need to remain at that level for the next 20 years.”
Taking everything into account, village councillors are recommending that residents choose dissolution.
“While this would mean change, remember regardless of our municipal structure, our community spirit will always be at the heart of Hythe and its people,” adds Peterson. “Change is sometimes difficult, but our spirit will always rise above any adjustments we may face as a community.”
In 2018, the Town of Grande Cache underwent its own viability review, and its residents eventually voted to dissolve and become a hamlet of the Municipal District of Greenview. Rycroft went through the same process earlier that year, but its residents chose for it to remain a village.