Most Lacombe residents feel their tax dollars are being spent wisely.
About eight of 10 residents felt they were getting good or fairly good value for their money in utilities, police and fire services and city administration. Slightly fewer — 73 per cent — felt that way about recreation programs and facilities with nearly 22 per cent ranking the value at fairly poor.
Those results came through a budget survey launched earlier this year that drew 263 responses in the three weeks it was open. Six out of 10 who took the time to participate had lived in the city for 10 years or more and 85 per cent were homeowners.
Residents were polled on how they want their city to pay for the increasing costs of providing services. Increasing property taxes and user fees was the choice of 31 per cent, while 26 per cent picked those options as well as service level cuts.
The least popular option — 58 per cent were opposed — was balancing the budget solely by boosting property taxes.
Mayor Steve Christie said that response came as no surprise to council, which does not support that approach either.
“It is not our goal is not to raise taxes every year. But as everybody’s costs go up our costs go up as well,” he said.
“Budget time is always a balancing act.”
When asked where residents wanted to see cuts if necessary, the responses covered a wide range of services. Reducing spending on policing, parks, administration, arts, snow removal and garbage were a few recurring suggestions.
Top priorities for residents also ran a broad gamut, but recurring themes were: reducing taxes, attracting more businesses/shopping, and better pool facilities.
Christie said the results of the survey and conversations with residents at a Coffee with Council gathering on Wednesday night will be used to identify priorities as the budget process gets underway.
Council has sought public input into its budget process for several years. In past years, residents could suggest projects to be added to the budget.
That information often came forward in the coffee meeting with council so the survey was tried this year as a different approach.