(Black Press File Photo)

Lacombe Pre Budget Survey yields only 112 responses

Mayor confident council, admin is prepared for 2020 Budget talks

Some on Lacombe city council were discouraged after a 2020 Pre Budget Survey only yielded 112 responses.

The small number means that results from the survey will likely not be a key piece in forming the 2020 City Budget this fall.

Mayor Grant Creasey was thankful to those who did take the time to respond but did not feel 112 surveys could adequately represent the wishes of the near 14,000 people living in Lacombe.

“I would suggest that is not a healthy participation,” Mayor Grant Creasey said.

Creasey said council and administration will use other information available to them to form the budget, including day-to-day interactions with residents. Given that the Budget will be deliberated soon, it is unlikely the city can find another official avenue to gather information.

“What it (the survey) does do is help generate some alternate ideas on how we can garner that type of input moving forward for the nest year’s process,” Creasey said.

The results of the respondents that did take the time to fill out the survey show that 70 per cent of respondents with satisfied to very satisfied with city services, with 9.28 per cent saying they were very dissatisfied.

Just over nine per sent of respondents said that the quality of services have improved in the last 12 months, while 53.61 per cent said they have remained the same and 35.05 per cent said they decreased.

Respondents were asked how services relate to their tax dollars, with policing, fire services and trails being rated favorably. Recreation (programs and facilities) and utility services (water, solid waste and wastewater) had the highest fairly poor raters of 22.34 per cent and 28.72 per cent respectively.

Respondents were also asked how the city should deal with increased costs of city services, with a combination of increased property taxes and user fees coming in the highest at 24.18 per cent.

Creasey said community safety and roads remained high priorities for residents.

“Many of them appreciate the other services we provide but it is those core services that remain a priority for a lot of people and that small window suggests that has not changed,” he said.

The city also asked whether respondents were aware that the city collects the Alberta School Education Tax, which makes up 20 to 25 per cent of the total taxes collected. Just under 50 per cent (49.35 per cent) said they were unaware of this.

Creasey said the city does try to communicate this information, but it is not always absorbed by the greater public.

“There are only so many ways to give that information and whether or not it is absorbed is a different idea,” he said.

Despite the lack of usable information in the survey, Creasey said administration and council is on a strong foundation with what needs to be done with the budget.

“We all realize we have to live within our means and I am confident about the 2020 Budget,” he said.

Given the response, Creasey is unsure whether a pre budget survey will be conducted in 2020.

“I am confident our administration will bring forth positive ideas and some suggestions from which council will discuss and come up with the best alternative,” he said.



todd.vaughan@lacombeexpress.com

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