County’s 2014 budget based on rate increases of 1.72 per cent

Following the priorities set out in Lacombe County’s 2014-2016 Strategic Plan and its long-range capital plans, councillors approved

  • Jan. 2, 2014 3:00 p.m.

Submitted

Following the priorities set out in Lacombe County’s 2014-2016 Strategic Plan and its long-range capital plans, councillors approved the 2014 interim operating budget, which is balanced at $49,214,011 in revenue and expenses. Council also approved the interim capital budget, which provides for revenues and expenditures of $17,052,850, a decrease of $3,639,810 from the 2013 capital budget.

As a cornerstone of its Strategic Plan, councillors have put a high priority on sustainable and financially viable levels of service for the current and future needs of our citizens. With this in mind, councillors approved a number of new and exciting initiatives in the 2014 budgets, while at the same time reducing costs in several areas.

The operating budget is based on municipal tax rate increases of 1.72 per cent for residential, non-residential and farmland properties.

While councillors approve the interim operating and capital budgets in December of each year, the final budgets and tax rates are not set until the following spring, when the property tax levy for education purposes is determined by the province. Municipal tax rates are set by aligning the total budget requirements for the year with the total assessed value of all properties in the county.

Operating Budget – Of the county’s total $49,214,011 operating budget, $25,173,540 is funded through property taxation, with the balance coming from federal and provincial grants, user and service fees, investment income and reserve transfers. As well, $437,470 in property taxes will again be collected on behalf of Lacombe Foundation to support the operation of their facilities.

Capital budget – Highlights of the $17.052 million capital budget include $12.24 million for the construction and reconstruction of 29.04 kilometers of gravel roads, paving/repaving of 14.62 kilometers of roads, and chip seal treatment of 60.1 kilometers of existing paved roads. As well, $352,590 has been allocated for county recreation capital projects.

A Question of Balance – Every year councillors work through the difficult task of managing resources for the growing needs of its stakeholders in order to maintain a balance between present needs and future growth.

County Commissioner Terry Hager said, “The 2014 tax rate increase reflects the current cost of doing business, and maintains our position of having one of the lowest property tax rates in Alberta. Part of the increase in our tax rate is due to the costs associated with increased service levels in the areas of conservation management, weed and pest control and road maintenance. The balance is attributed to increased funding for recreation, tourism, historical and cultural facilities throughout the county, and additional contributions to a reserve set up for the rehabilitation and replacement of our bridges.”

Reeve Paula Law said, “The budget is one of the most difficult items before Council each year. We are tasked with balancing increasing costs, maintaining service levels and ensuring Lacombe County is well positioned for the future. All this is done while keeping you, the ratepayers, in the forefront. This year’s budget is no exception – staff and councillors have worked diligently to meet these goals and keep the tax rate as low as possible.”