Lacombe County will hold the line on taxes and leave vacant staff positions unfilled to save money in 2021.
Council passed its $55.3 million operating and $18.6 million interim capital budgets last Friday that took into account tax revenue losses in several areas.
“Over the last few years, Lacombe County has faced many unique challenges facing our economy, including a significant loss in revenue from oil and gas well taxes and now the COVID-19 pandemic,” said county manager Tim Timmons, adding the budget “recognizes the challenges and uncertainty in our province.”
Interim operating and capital budgets are approved each year. The budget will be updated next spring when the province sets the property tax levy for education purposes and when property assessment values have been confirmed.
Existing service levels will be maintained in the balanced operating budget, which includes no municipal tax rate increase.
“The county is awaiting decisions from the province concerning regulated industrial assessments and rural policing costs before finalizing the budget in the spring of 2021.”
The budget makes allowances for an expected $180,000 reduction in oil and gas tax revenues as well as revenue reductions tied to the elimination of the well drilling tax.
The proposed $18.6 million capital budget is down 44 per cent — $14.9 million — from 2020. Equipment and vehicle replacements will decrease by $2.5 million.
Reeve Paula Law says the capital budget includes $6 million set aside in prior years for capital replacement.
“By using our capital reserves, funds from equipment trade-ins, and capital grants, we can ensure that we are moving forward with crucial projects that will keep Lacombe County moving in a positive direction.”