At their regular meeting this week, Lacombe City council passed a resolution to accept the 2018 Budget Survey report for information.
“This is the second year council conducted a budget survey to gauge how citizens feel about where their tax dollars are being allocated, and we are pleased with the great response received,” said Mayor Steve Christie.
“The results will provide guidance for the upcoming budget cycle as this information comes directly from citizens.”
The 2018 Budget Survey attracted 383 responses over its three-week period, an increase of 45% over the prior year’s responses.
The survey focused on the following areas: demographics, value for money, tax guidance, operations and planning through knowledge-based questions as well as open-ended comments and opinions.
The largest single age group of survey respondents remained 31-40 year olds with 27% of responses, followed by 41-50 and 51- to 60-year-olds, each having 18% and 22% respectively.
Out of 383 responses, almost 61% have lived in Lacombe 10 years or more and 90% of respondents are home owners.
The survey revealed that most citizens felt that they got fairly good to very good value from municipal services, while 69% of respondents thought that the quality of services has remained about the same, with 7% indicating the City had improved.
Approximately 18% felt that there was a decline in service for this timeframe, and 6% didn’t know if the quality of services had changed.
Around 23% of survey respondents were okay with a combination of property tax and user fee increases to balance the budget; 22% chose a combination of service level cuts, a small increase in property taxes and user fees, and 19% did not want to see cuts in existing service levels to reduce taxes.
The majority of respondents (60%) did not support a sole increase in property taxes.
The survey also asked if services were to get cut, in which areas reductions should be made. There were a variety of results in the responses, from a reduction in police, changes to solid waste pickup schedules and snow removal to administration costs and reduction in art spending.
Economic development topped the list of the three top priorities identified by survey respondents for the City to address over the next 12-24 months. This includes requests for more of a commercial base, increase in shopping choices and business attraction and retention.
Fiscal responsibility was another priority, with calls to stabilize tax rates, reduce spending and property taxes.
To view the complete 2018 Budget Survey responses, including the raw data, go to http://www.lacombe.ca/home/showdocument?id=9691.