City of Lacombe will boost property tax rates by 3.75 per cent plus a one per cent special paving tax for road upkeep.
The $49.2 million operating budget also includes a three per cent cost of living allowance for staff. One per cent of the tax increase will boost a road reserve fund for future maintenance, 0.74 per cent is linked to increased debt servicing costs needed for the new $10.8 million operations building under construction and 1.2 per cent is for increased net expenditures.
The $140,000 cost of enhancing services, including $62,000 more for snow removal, $38,500 in extra funding for community agencies and $16,000 for weekend outdoor rink clearing among other changes amounted to a 0.81 per cent tax rate increase.
The 3.75 per cent tax rate increase will generate another $645,000 and the one per cent special paving tax will raise $172,000. New growth generated about $344, 0000, the equivalent of a two per cent tax rate increase.
Mayor Grant Creasey said the operating budget “reflects our commitment to fiscal responsibility and service delivery. This budget balances the needs and expectations of our residents and businesses, while addressing the challenges of inflation, growth, and infrastructure renewal.
“The budget represents council’s ongoing commitment to keeping tax increases at or below inflation.”
Coun. Don Gullekson planned to propose an amendment reducing the tax rate increase to 3.5 per cent but the motion had already been made to support the budget with a 3.75 per cent tax rate increase.
“I think the drop to 3.5 would be certainly more palatable to the public,” said Gullekson. “I was hoping to have a look at that but I guess we’re in the position to have the voted on this. That’s my fault for not being faster.”
Coun. Cora Hoekstra noted council had already reduced the budget from the four per cent first proposed.
“So, we have done some work there and I think that should be noted to the public. To work on it further, I’m not willing.”
Council approved the budget 6-1 with Gullekson voting against.