Lacombe looking at 2.7-per-cent tax increase

Lacombe homeowners will face an average 2.7-per-cent tax increase next year. City council passed its $29.49-million operating and $15.9-million capital budgets on Monday night.

Lacombe homeowners will face an average 2.7-per-cent tax increase next year.

City council passed its $29.49-million operating and $15.9-million capital budgets on Monday night.

The operating budget is up $2 million, or 7.5 per cent, from last year’s $27.5 million. This year’s budget was boosted by a $167,624 increase in tax revenues connected with growth.

The 2.7 per cent increase will generate just over $289,000.

Mayor Steve Christie said council is satisfied with this year’s spending. Council was initially looking at a 2.3 per cent increase but opted to boost the public works department’s budget to allow for more snow clearing.

“It just increases the level of service, not only in snow clearing, but in our whole public works department,” he said. Adding a full-time staffer cost another $40,000, with some of the cost offset by reducing the number of seasonal workers required to five from six.

Under policy changes approved on Monday, the city will clear a gap in windrows for residents who have walkways from their house to the street. Previously, gaps were only cut for driveways. About 400 houses will benefit.

Provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding will total $2.15 million next year. About $800,000 of that will go towards engineering and design for a new police station and $325,000 will be used to fund the Michener Park design and ball diamond. Another $236,000 will be used to expand the trail system and $192,000 will fund pool and arena upgrades.

Lacombe residents will also pay more for utilities next year. The average utility bill will go up 5.24 per cent.

City spokesman Deven Kumar says customers will see the water consumption rate increase to $2.26 from $2.18 per cubic metre, with the monthly flat rate increasing to $24.01 from $23.75. The wastewater monthly flat rate will rise to $12.28 from $11.65.

For solid waste, residential rates will increase to reflect the new curbside recycling program, with the monthly rate increasing to $27.09 from $23.67, said Kumar. Commercial rates will increase to $89.43 from $82.88 per month.

Lacombe’s capital budget includes 44 projects. Grants will cover $7.59 million of the cost.

Among the big projects planned are:

• $4.55 million for a pavement project on 34th Street from Hwy 2A to the city boundary

• $3.2 million for site development for Len Thompson Industrial Park

• $1.83 million for vehicle and equipment replacement

• $1.69 million for Maple Drive paving project from College Avenue to the end

• $1 million for land acquisition.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com