Lacombe County council recently adopted the County’s 2017 interim operating and capital budgets, which support maintaining existing service levels while minimizing tax increases.
The budgets continue to follow priorities set out in the County’s Strategic Plan and its long-range road construction and capital equipment replacement plans.
The $45,317,260 interim operating budget is balanced and is supported by a one per cent property tax rate increase for all property types and a transfer of $348,150 from the tax rate stabilization reserve.
The one percent property tax rate increase represents an additional $9.70 in taxes on a $400,000 residential property.
“The 2017 budget recognizes the economic challenges our residents are facing, and balances these impacts with the long-term financial position of Lacombe County,” said County Commissioner Terry Hager.
“The protection of infrastructure remains a primary focus in the budget and allows Lacombe County to continue to take advantage of the competitive pricing environment for new infrastructure projects where possible.”
The 2017 interim capital budget, which provides for revenues and expenditures of $16,572,130, saw a decrease of $1.464 million from last year’s budget.
Highlights of the capital budget include a 50% share in a new engine for the Blackfalds fire department funded by the Alberta Community Partnership ($175,000) and a transfer from the Protective Services Reserve ($105,000).
As well, the capital budget includes replacement of four tractors for mowing and plowing operations at a net cost of approximately $400,000, construction and rehabilitation of 24 kms of local roads ($5.47 million) and engineering and replacement of bridges ($4.09 million).
Each year council works through the complex task of managing resources in order to maintain a balance between present needs and future growth.
“Council understands the financial challenges that many of our ratepayers are dealing with,” said County Reeve Paula Law.
“While it’s important to maintain service levels and to consider the County’s future sustainability, our goal was to develop a conservative, hold-the-line approach, which is represented well in the 2017 budgets.”
While the interim operating and capital budgets are approved in December of each year, the final budgets and tax rates are not set until the following spring, when the property tax levy for education purposes is set by the Province and property assessment values have been confirmed.