BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Lacombe City council will be adopting the 2017 Operating and Capital budgets in a few weeks after months of deliberation and amendments.
Council spent several full day sessions, open house meetings, late nights and early mornings collecting and responding to public data for input into necessary projects.
As well, the 10 Year Capital Plan has undergone heavy review to coincide with the planning of the 2017 budgets.
The Capital Budget document includes projections and uses of reserves and grant balances to the end of the year – essentially, this means all of the details on borrowing, interest payments and grant money that has been presented to the City.
The current draft shows a total cost of just under $23 million.
This money will be put to a number of projects, the largest of which include the West Servicing Area Project ($10.63 million) and the Main Street Infrastructure Project ($6.75 million).
“The Main Street Infrastructure Project is not one that we particularly want to do, but it’s something we have to do,” said Mayor Steve Christie.
“That is going to be a very sensitive project, dealing with downtown businesses and making sure we can still attract people to their stores. We want to be as little of a disruption in that area as we can, and get out work done as quickly as possible. It’s going to be a tough and sensitive project, but it’s got to be done.”
The Main Street Infrastructure program will include a major upgrade to underground water and sewage pipelines, road maintenance, sidewalk upgrades and other infrastructure-related replacements.
Council has said they want to keep the project short and down to necessities to avoid placing additional stress on downtown businesses.
Christie said the West End Servicing Project is a big project, but the community seems more hopeful and positive in terms of responding to that project.
That project has been estimated to cost nearly $10.7 million, but will provide the opportunity for commercial and industry development in that area of town.
“We did have a little bit of feedback (on the West End Servicing Project) with the budget open house and we heard positivity on the potential it could bring to attracting new commercial business, which helps balance our residential and non-residential tax base,” Christie explained.
The West End Servicing Project will open up future development by extending sewer maintenance and water lines from Woodland Drive and Fairway Drive west to the City’s corporate boundary limits.
This would help facilitate development in the Midway land along Hwy. 2.
This project will also allow for connection to City services by Lacombe County for their lands on the west side of Hwy. 2.
As the Operating Budget stands, citizens will see a proposed property tax rate increase of 3.28% and it has allowed for some increases in external agency funding such as with the Lacombe Athletic Park Association for basketball courts ($43, 750), the Parkland Regional Library Society ($2,301) and Lacombe Regional Tourism ($13,900).
In order to save money on that operating budget, cuts were made to programs within the departments of land-use planning, information services, economic development, recreation board and programming and parks and playgrounds. All cuts made were non-essential items that can be explored in the future.
Both the Capital Budget and the Operating Budget will be adopted officially on Dec. 12th.