Lacombe County Council officially adopted a $55,212,370 interim operating budget for 2019 during their regular meeting Thursday.
As part of a budget, residential property owners can expect a two per cent tax rate increase, which equates to an additional $20.04 in taxes on a property assessed at $400,000.
Farmland owners, meanwhile, will see a 3.5 per cent property tax increase, and all other properties will see a 4.5 per cent increase. A transfer of $67,630 from the tax rate stabilization reserve is also supporting the budget.
The balanced budget, according to Lacombe County, follows priorities set out in the county’s Strategic Plan, including long-range road construction and capital equipment replacement, as well as maintaining existing service levels.
As has been the case for the past few years, it was also developed with Alberta’s economic reality in mind.
“Lacombe County council voted to approve a budget for 2019 that recognizes the challenges and uncertainty that Alberta has faced since the economic downturn started – from a municipal, ratepayer and industry perspective,” said Tim Timmons, county manager. “Less spending and smarter spending was our focus and is the path we will continue for the foreseeable future.”
The interim capital budget was also approved with revenues and expenditures totalling $15,827,070 – a decrease from $13.105 million last year.
Major expenditures and projects include the carry-over funding for extension of water and wastewater services from the City of Lacombe to Lacombe County land on the west side of the QEII, including the Wildrose Industrial Park. As well, $4.5 million has been allocated for the construction and rehabilitation of 19 kilometres of local roads.
Decreases came in the areas of road projects ($12.2 million), bridge projects ($137,750), equipment and vehicle replacements ($676,410), and recreation projects ($158,400).
Overall, Lacombe County believes the interim budgets strike a balance between current needs and future growth.
“While it’s important to maintain service levels and to consider the count’s future sustainability, we recognized the challenges faced by our municipality and municipalities around Alberta,” said County Reeve Paula Law. “Council felt this budget will balance the reality of the uncertainties around managing a municipality with the expectations of our ratepayers.”
Final budget and tax rate approval won’t come until the spring, however, when education requisition is determined by the Alberta Government, and property assessment values are confirmed.
Last year’s $67,843,470 operating budget was finalized in May, with an increase of 2.5 per cent for residential properties, and 4.5 per cent increase for farmland and non-residential properties over 2017 rates.
Details of the 2019 interim budget will be available on the Lacombe County website later this week.