Proposed capital and operating budgets discussed at open house

The City of Lacombe released the proposed 2018 capital and operating budgets at an open house

The City of Lacombe released the proposed 2018 capital and operating budgets at an open house at the Lacombe Memorial Centre earlier this month.

Mayor Grant Creasey said he thinks Lacombians will be pleasantly surprised and impressed that property taxes will only increase by 1.3%.

“Given our debt load and that the economy is not exactly on top of the world, council held through with our word to try to keep taxation under control without sacrificing service levels.

“We try to keep things reasonable. And at the same time didn’t sacrifice service levels,” Creasey said.

Homeowners will see a 1.3% property tax rate increase, consistent with council’s budget guidelines. This will create $176,800 in revenue for the City, an assessment growth of $47,480 in 2018.

“This is not magic,” Creasey said. “And basically we did make some sacrifices in our contribution to the reserves,” he said, adding that the reserve funds were not where they would like to see them but it seemed the most palatable place to draw from.

Utilities are also projected to increase in the New Year.

“Percentage wise it looks horrible—it’s something that we have to do to keep the system viable,” the mayor said referring to the increase cost for wastewater.

Residential rates will go up by an estimated $6.24 per year.

“I’m a consumer too, but it does have the added benefit of being sustainable well into the future, for the next half a century,” Creasey said.

Water consumption and monthly flat rates will not increase.

Residential curbside waste and recycling collection rates will not increase, but apartment rates will go up to $12.36 per year.

Business owners will feel a significant hike of $9.91 per month, an annual increase of $118.92.

Based on the City’s projections, the ‘typical consumer’ can expect an estimated increase of $18.61 to their monthly utility bill for water distribution, wastewater, and garbage and recycling collection.

People can expect their total annual utility costs to be around $1,893.48 in 2018, up $223.32 from last year’s $1,679.16, according to the City of Lacombe’s proposal.

Several community groups will receive additional funding this coming year.

The Lacombe Public Library receives the largest amount of funding totaling $319,560, as well as the largest increase to its operating grant of $21,640.

“The primary reason for the increase to the library, is the changes to the legislative minimum wage rate—we felt it was long overdue to take care of those before it becomes legislation,” Creasey said, indicating that the funding will mainly go towards library staff salaries.

Big Brother Big Sisters will receive $10,000 this year. This is a substantial increase after no funding in 2017.

“It was felt by council that they were in need of some additional funding to help keep us more in line with neighbouring communities like Blackfalds and Red Deer,” he said.

Capital project expenditures are projected to total $17,703,317.

Major infrastructure and capacity expansion projects will include the water and sewer extensions from 76th St. to the West Corporate Boundary and upgrades to the Hwy 12 – 76th St. intersection.

The largest portion of the infrastructure replacement budget is allocated to sidewalk and curb replacements.

Creasey said overall the proposed budget was well received at the open house.

There were approximately 40 people in attendance at the event.

michelle.falk@reddeerexpress.com

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