LACOMBE – At their regular meeting in December, council approved a revised 2020 Operating Budget with a one per cent tax rate increase, incrementally adjusted from the 0.9 per cent budget scenario discussed at their Nov. 25 meeting.
The change was a result of provincial budget impacts that left the Lacombe Police Service and Lacombe and District Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) with budget shortfalls of $131,000 and $55,000, respectively. Council made up the shortfalls by deferring the hiring of an asset management coordinator, reducing contributions to the Community Builder Fund , making salary adjustments for new staff positions, reducing the organizational training budget, and increasing the tax rate by 0.1 per cent.
“Given the economic challenges facing Alberta, Council has worked very hard to find solutions to maintain service levels without placing undue burden on taxpayers,” said Mayor Grant Creasey. “We are pleased to have kept the tax and utility rate increases to below the rate of inflation.”
“The city has demonstrated its commitment to keeping Lacombe a safe and caring community by finding solutions to cover the unexpected shortfalls experienced by Lacombe Police and FCSS,” said Chief Administrative Officer Matthew Goudy. “Administration has worked diligently with council to prepare a prudent budget that focuses on managing our infrastructure investments, while continuing to plan for future growth.”
2020 Operating Budget
The City of Lacombe’s 2020 Operating Budget consists of revenues and expenses totaling $44.06 million, resulting in a balanced budget. Highlights include:
- About $148,000 in additional property tax revenues resulting from a one per cent tax increase
- 1.75 per cent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Lacombe Police Service Members
- 0.9 per cent COLA for all other city employees
- Debt repayment amounts to a total of about $2.4 million ($1 million interest and $1.4 million principal)
- Transfer to reserves amounting to about $2.5 million to partly fund the Ten Year Capital Plan
The city will provide $5.1 million in funding allocations to external agencies – including the Lacombe Police Service and the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre Foundation – in 2020, up from $4.8 million in 2019.
An average house valued at $380,000 will see an increase of $30.10 for the year, or about $2.51 per month.
Water and wastewater rates will increase by 0.9 per cent in 2020. The monthly flat rate will increase from $26.77 to $27.01 per month, and the consumption rate will increase from $2.47 to $2.49 per cubic metre.
The wastewater consumption rate will increase from $2.64 to $2.66 per m3 (charged at 100 per cent of water consumption used). The monthly flat rate will increase from $20.00 to $20.18 per month. Based on an average, water consumption of 18 cubic meters will result in a $1.73 per month increase.
Solid waste rates for 2020 will remain the same as 2019 rates. The residential monthly solid waste rate stays at $31.76 per month in 2020.
The 2020 budget process was informed by community engagement efforts that occurred throughout the year, starting with a survey in May.
Council will formally set the property tax rate in April 2020, after the assessment roll is prepared and the provincial budget is announced.