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Lacombe passes 2018 budgets

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

After a few tweaks, the 2018 operating and capital budgets were passed on schedule and before the Christmas break by Lacombe city council on Monday.

Mayor Grant Creasey said he was pleased to see it passed before Christmas while many municipalities are waiting until the new year.

“I think as a new council, it’s nice to see everyone come together and move in the same direction and get it passed,” he said.

“I was certainly pleased, as council was, that we were able to produce a budget that reflects better the priorities of the people that put us here.”

As part of a $35,669,789 balanced budget, residents will face a 1.3 per cent property tax increase, which equates to an increase of $30.28 for the year on house assessed at $373,033.

While no one likes to see taxes increase, the City of Lacombe’s is the lowest among mid-size cities (cities with a population under 500,000).

The big increase for ratepayers in the upcoming year will come from utilities. While water rates will remain the same, wastewater consumption will increase from $1.47 to $2.15 per cubic metre. Monthly flat rates will increase from $19.52 to $20 per month, meaning that taxpayers will see about an $18 increase per month based on an average water consumption of 18 cubic metres.

Solid waste rates remain the same for 2018, but apartment rates will jump from $1.03 to $17.27 per month. Commercial rates will also see a substantial increase - $9.91 to $109.89 per month.

Some of the other changes to the budget, include the reduction of $10,000 previously allocated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lacombe and District. That money was added Family and Community Support Services external grant program. The Lacombe and District Historical Society also is receiving an additional $10,000 in 2018 - a request originally denied by council that was overturned during council’s last meeting in November.

A one per cent increase to Lacombe Police Service (LPS) members and a 0.4 per cent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for city employees remain.

However, due to a decision from the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP) to reduce pension contribution rates by on per cent, as well as the finalization of the employee benefit packages, there was a benefit cost reduction of $111,000 to the city.

These monies facilitated the reinstatement of the transfer to reserves, which council originally chose to remove temporarily in order to minimize property tax increases to residents.

Property tax rates will be finalized in April 2018 after assessment is completed, the provincial budget is announced and school requisition is determined.

“Administration has worked diligently with council to prepare a budget that considers forward-looking requirements in a fiscally responsibly manner,” said Matthew Goudy, acting chief administrative officer in a release issued Tuesday. “Council is investing for long-term economic growth, improving quality of living and securing a stronger future for our city.”

Capital budget

Capital budget changes, meanwhile, include the addition of $310,000 for the design and land acquisition of the Henner’s Storm Outlet to move development in the area forward.

A total of 38 new capital projects will commence in 2018, with the majority of funds going towards the West ARea Servicing project ($15,175,608), the eastbound left turn lane at 50 Ave. and 58 St. ($306,075), the paving of the Lacombe Airport’s north taxiway ($128,000), Public Works Building roof replacement and washroom renovations ($287,810) and trail system improvements ($608,475).

Additional expenditures include a number of smaller projects, as well as equipment and vehicle acquisitions.

The capital budget also includes $15.175 million in carryover costs from 2017 projects for a total capital budget of $18.013 million.

To view the 2018 operating and capital budgets, visit the City of Lacombe website at www.lacombe.ca.

-abarrett@postmedia.com 



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