Budgets adopted after much ado
Lacombe council members officially adopted the 2017 Annual Operating Budget, for the most part as presented, with one change.
Councillors removed the Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) for council members, which would have been 1.3%. All other City employees, excluding council and Lacombe Police Service (LPS) will receive a 1% cost of living adjustment, with LPS members receiving a 2.00% COLA.
The property tax rate increase was adopted at 3.28%, but Mayor Steve Christie said there is always the potential for this number to be lowered in April when Provincial budgets have been allocated.
As well, the debt repayment total for the City will amount to $1,909,913 in 2017, with $435,742 towards interest payments, and $1,474,171 towards the principal debt amount.
The 2017 Annual Operating Budget also outlines a total of $1,037,141 being utilized by external agencies such as Lacombe Regional Tourism, Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), Lacombe Public Library and the Heritage Society.
To align with the regional wastewater line, residents will see some changes in their wastewater rates, with the consumption raise increased from $0.52 to $1.47 per m3, charged at 80% water consumption used. The monthly flat rate increases from $16.03 to $19.52 per month.
As well, solid waste rates will climb from residential rates of $1.23 to $27.86, and commercial rates moving from $3.19 to $99.98 per month.
More information on budgets is available on the Lacombe Express web site.
The 2017 Capital Budget was approved as presented, with $22.15 million in expenditures through 34 projects.
The vast majority of those costs will be reflected in two major 2017 projects, the West Area Servicing Project ($10.63 million) and the Main Street Infrastructure Project ($6.75 million), which are a part of the greater Ten Year Capital Plan, which was also adopted as presented in council.
City considers agreement for LED lights
A presentation was made to council by FORTIS Alberta representative Stan Orlesky, who brought an option to convert cobra-head streetlights from existing high pressure sodium to light-emitting diode (LED) technology.
Orlesky explained that FORTIS already services 1,331 lights in Lacombe, and would save approximately $5 per year, per fixture with the switch to LED, equating in approximately $6,655.
He also explained that all FORTIS-managed light fixtures going forward would be replaced with LED lights, but the City could save money by agreeing to a planned change-over now.
The change-over would take approximately one month to complete.
Mayor Steve Christie said at a savings of five dollars per fixture, per year, for over 1,000 fixtures seemed like a “no-brainer.” Council accepted a motion to write an acknowledgment letter and look into following up on the LED light exchange program.
Exploring uncollectable accounts
Under the new Utility Bylaw (Bylaw 393), a new measure has been put in place to protect the City from costs of uncollectable accounts. Now, all new utility accounts shall be in the name of the property owners of the land as per the Liability for public utility chargers section of Bylaw 393.
Once a tenant moves out of a leased premise, the utility account shall default into the property owner listed on the tax roll.
Now, the City will require a deposit at the time of setting up a new utility account, which may be waived if a client sets up a pre-authorized payment system.
This will help to defer any delinquent or uncollectable accounts, which eventually have to be written off by council. These deposits are to be paid by renters to landlords in case of failing to pay the rental utility bills.