Lacombe County seems to have no problems with money.
At the end of last year, Lacombe County had more than enough cash to meet its operating budget requirements.
“We ended the year on a very positive note,” said Tim Timmons, manager of corporate services for Lacombe County, noting that the County realized an operating surplus of over $2 million.
While pleased with the money management skills of County administration, some County councillors expressed concern that there was perhaps too much of a surplus.
Councillor Cliff Soper said that it is unique that Lacombe County has so much of a surplus when most municipal governments are facing deficits.
“Certainly it reflects well on how we manage money,” said Soper. “Maybe we just have a little bit more than we should.”
Councillor Brenda Knight agreed.
She said that, because of the surplus, she would like to see if taxes cannot be lowered a little more. “I would like to see that tweaked further if we can.”
How the surplus money would be spent was also a concern for some councillors. Administration’s recommendation to Council was to allocate the surplus to a number of surplus accounts, but Councillor Rod McDermand expressed his thoughts that council should instead discuss using the money to fund projects like repairing aging roads and getting broadband service to the County, which he said have been much-needed priorities for some time.
Knight also said that she would like to see more than the $132,000 recommended by administration go into the Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve, in order to further reduce the County’s taxes.
However, the surplus will certainly not be wasted. The County’s Bridge Reserve received $1.1 million to aid with a growing bridge issue in the County as it has several aging bridge structures.
The Lake Access Reserve also received $940,000 for the purpose of financing improvements, amenities and road development associated with improved lake access in the County. Lacombe County’s recommendation for the allocation of the 2012 surplus, which was approved by Council at its regular April 25 meeting, is as follows: $550,000 to the Operational Reserve, $1.1 million to the Bridge Reserve, $132,000 to the Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve, $940,000 to Lake Access Reserve and $566,265 to the Surplus Reserve.
It should also be noted that council can, through resolution, decide to change these allocations at a later time if it is deemed necessary.