Lacombe City council has adopted the adjustments made to the 2015 operating budget with an amended surplus of $8,400 and a final tax increase rate of 4.5%.
According to the 2015 operating budget update published in the April 27th City council agenda report, changes in the budget can be attributed to three major categories which include provincial grants, solid waste requisition and property assessments.
Strong residential growth in 2014 resulted in additional taxable revenue for 2015 of $78,822. As well, the City generated an additional $50,206 in supplementary tax revenue.
“What happens is when we set our budgets and go through what our costs for the year are, it’s far in advance of the provincial budget and prior to assessments being done. Once assessments are done and we see the provincial budget, we come back and do our adjustments and set the tax rate where it should be,” said Steve Christie, Lacombe mayor.
“Now, there were quite a few factors this year. Our assessment went up with regards to residential. Our commercial assessment was right around where we thought it would be. Our assessment went up, but we had some negatives happen that kind of took away some of our surplus. We still ended up with a little bit of a surplus and were therefore able to decrease our tax increase from 4.89 (per cent) to 4.5 (per cent).”
Revenue loss for the City came from the elimination of the funding provided in lieu by Alberta Housing for housing management bodies including seniors’ living facilities and social housing for families. The loss of this funding means a loss of $68,750 as well as an additional $4,580 in school requisition funding.
In the City’s proposed 2015 budget, an estimate for the requisition to the Lacombe Regional Solid Waste Commission was included. After the provincial budget, the final amount to commission is $41,412 higher than previously thought, and that money will be found in the solid waste reserves.
“During this process, we’re always looking for efficiencies and better ways and more efficient ways of doing things. Through this, with our financial department and billing department, there are some possible savings. There might be a more efficient way to work with our billing process, so we’re researching that. There are some capitol costs, so we’re going to weigh that out and see if it balances out into savings or not,” said Christie.