Lacombe County adopts 2020 interim operating and capital budget

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Lacombe County Council has adopted the county’s 2020 interim operating and capital budgets.

Following the priorities set out in the county’s Strategic Plan, its long-range road construction, and capital equipment replacement plans, the budget supports the maintenance of existing service levels while managing the county’s spending in a responsible manner that reflects the current economic situation.

“Lacombe County was faced with a tough budget year because of unique challenges facing our economy, including a significant loss in revenue from shallow gas well taxes,” said Tim Timmons, county manager. “We recognize the importance of planning for rainy days – or rainy years, as it seems. Council voted to approve an interim budget for 2020 that recognizes the challenges and uncertainty in our province. Still, we were able to mitigate some of the challenges through our use of reserve transfers.”

Interim operating and capital budgets are approved in December of each year, and are the first stage of a two-stage process that authorizes the county to spend on approved projects and conduct operations as of Jan. 1, 2020.

Stage 2 is the approval of the final budgets and tax rates, and takes place in the following spring when the province sets the property tax levy for education purposes, and when property assessment values have been confirmed.

The $55,721,450 interim operating budget is balanced and maintains existing service levels. The county is awaiting decisions from the province concerning regulated industrial assessments and rural policing costs prior to finalizing the budget in the spring of 2020.

The 2020 interim capital budget is $33,511,220, an increase of $13.48 million (67.32 per cent) compared to 2019. Highlights of the capital budget include:
• Increase in road projects of $6.652 million.
• Increase of $861,020 for bridge projects, including both replacements and engineering.
• Equipment and vehicle replacements increase by $242,300.
• West QEII utility servicing increased by $5.69 million.
• Accounting and Records Management Software purchases are a carry-over project from 2019.

“It’s important to note that of the $33.5 million in capital spending planned for in 2020, $18.397 million (54.9 per cent) is sourced through funds set aside in prior years through the capital replacement plans compared to $13.462 million in 2019,” explained Lacombe County Reeve Paula Law. “Using our capital reserves, funds from equipment trade-ins, and capital grants, we can ensure that we are moving forward with crucial projects that will keep Lacombe County moving in a positive direction.”

Each year council works through the complex task of managing resources to maintain a balance between present needs and future growth.

“Maintaining service levels and considering the County’s future growth was factored into the 2020 interim budgets, as we know that our ratepayers expect excellent service through our infrastructure and maintenance programs,” said Reeve Law. “There are many challenges faced by our municipality and municipalities around Alberta, and council felt this budget would balance the reality of the many uncertainties facing Lacombe County, without negatively impacting our ratepayers.”

-Submitted by Lacombe County

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