Lacombe passes capital and operating budgets

axes are on the rise for Lacombe. City council has passed the 2014 capital and operating budgets

  • Dec. 12, 2013 7:00 a.m.

Taxes are on the rise for Lacombe.

City council has passed the 2014 capital and operating budgets, which allows the City to maintain service delivery at current levels and includes resources for council’s priority areas including a recycling program, a regional transit initiative, and making safety a priority by investing in the City’s protective services.

Mayor Steve Christie said the tax increase and budget will ensure the City continues to provide the level of service citizens expect.

“Consistent with council’s budget guidelines, property tax rates have been budgeted with a 2.7 per cent increase,” said Christie.

“This budget is responsive to the needs and preferences of our citizens, which are established through public engagement and consultation and collaboration with community organizations.”

The 2014 operating budget has expenditures of $29.49 million with $18.1 million in offsetting revenues excluding property taxes and $11.4 million in municipal property taxes to achieve an operating surplus of $4,170.

This is a $2 million or 7.5% increase over the 2013 expenditures.

“Lacombe’s growth is impacting staff capacity and it is getting more difficult to sustain existing services,” said Chief Administrative Officer Norma MacQuarrie.

“However, we are working hard to find efficiencies and administration has prepared a budget that maintains service levels and supports increased demand from residents in a sustainable manner.”

The average tax rate increase on municipal taxes for a property in Lacombe will be 2.7% while there will be a 5.24% increase per month for the average residential utility account.

The 2014 operating budget also includes a 2% cost of living adjustment for police officers, and 1% for staff.

The 2014 capital budget includes 44 new capital projects totaling $15.9 million with $7.59 million to be grant-funded.

Not only will the 2014 capital works program maintain and enhance infrastructure and facilities, it will develop new infrastructure to encourage economic growth, said Christie.

Projects include:

• $1.69 million for Maple Dr. – College Ave. to end – sidewalk, base and pavement project.

• $4.55 million for 34 St. – Hwy. 2A to City boundary – curb, base and pavement project.

• $810,000 for signals; lighting; 50th Ave. barrier; Henner’s Pond outfall and NE Lift Station.

• $867,000 for infrastructure replacement at Woodland Dr. and C&E Trail; par count, 49 St. and 52 Ave.; 49 Ave. and Hwy. 2A.

• $1.83 million for vehicle and equipment replacement.

• $3.2 million for Len Thompson Phase II site development.

• $1 million for land acquisition site.

• $800,000 for police station design and engineering.

• $604,000 for parks and trail development.

• $391,000 for facility updates for pumphouse A & C; Aquaplex, Arena and Pickwick Lane playground.

• $172,000 for offsite levy software; wastewater impact study bleacher replacement and Henner’s Park landscaping.

Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) capital grants for 2014 are estimated at $2.15 million:

• $800,000 will fund the police station – engineering and design.

• $325,000 will fund the Michener Park design and ball diamond.

• $236,000 will fund the trail expansion – Elizabeth and Lake Anne.

• $85,000 will fund the council Strategic Plan, the Municipal Development Plan, and the Land Use Bylaw.

• $192,000 will fund arena and pool upgrades.

• $55,000 will be carried forward from 2013 to complete the Municipal Development Plan, the Housing Needs Assessment and the Organizational Affective Review.

Additional property tax revenues resulting from assessment growth amount to $167,624 and additional property tax revenues from the 2.7% tax increase generate $289,203. Debt repayment amounts to a total of $2,078,622 ($466,068 interest and $1,612,554 principal). 2014 contributions to capital from capital reserves total $2.8 million ($2.5 million in 2013).

– Vossen