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State of the City 2016

​City Council's Strategic Goals

  1. Embrace its role as government leaders of the corporation by strengthening the process of governance

  2. Demonstrate financial stewardship

  3. Steward Lethbridge toward a well-designed city by ensuring quality urban design

  4. Foster a safe, healthy, vibrant community through inclusive policies, recreational & cultural opportunities, and collaboration

  5. Take a leadership role in the protection & preservation of our natural environment

  6. Foster strong relationships with neighbouring communities through collaboration

Goal #1 City Council embraces its role as government leaders of the corporation by strengthening the process of governance.

  • Our council has committed to and is working towards reviewing all policies.

  • We have encouraged professional development including attending both and environment and economic development conference, training on engaging with indigenous people, and attending learning sessions.

  • We continue to advocate for our community to other levels of government. We can't let partisan views or philosophies get in the way of working for the people we're elected to represent.

Goal #2 Demonstrate financial stewardship.

  • One of the key challenges for City Council as financial stewards of the City of Lethbridge is to balance our resources with the needs of the community.

  • Taxes

    • I often get asked why taxes are so high in Lethbridge. The reality is, they actually aren't and we are doing well at keeping this balance.

    •  The average overall tax increase in 2015 was 2.84 per cent this year, one of the lowest for cities in Alberta.

    • When comparing residential property taxes from one city to another, there are many variable factors to consider in order to make an accurate comparison. Home values vary substantially from city to city as can the composition of their respective overall assessment bases.

    • One simple way of comparing city-to-city property taxation is to look at the total municipal tax revenue collected per person in each city.

    • According to 2015 data, the total municipal tax revenue collected per person ranged from as low as $742 in Airdrie to as high as $5534 in Fort McMurray. In Lethbridge, the total municipal tax collected per person in was $1,255. Very comparable to Red Deer at $1,188.

 

    • We can also look at the median municipal tax in Alberta and we find Lethbridge in the middle as well as the overall median tax which includes both municipal and the provincial education tax where Lethbridge is on the lower end. For more information and charts visit the property taxes section of our website.

    • Additional considerations:

      • Additional Taxes: Overall property tax bill includes two other components besides your municipal property tax levy. One is the Provincial education levy which last year accounted for almost 24 per cent of the overall bill. The other is the levy for the Green Acres Foundation, which helps fund seniors' housing in our community, and which accounts for 1.2 per cent of your overall tax bill.

      • No automatic tax indexing: Unlike provincial and federal income tax revenues, municipal tax revenues do not rise automatically with your income. As our costs rise annually with inflation and other cost pressures, we must adjust tax rates accordingly.

      • Government owned facilities: Lethbridge has a comparatively high proportion of government-owned facilities in Lethbridge that pay little or no local property tax.

      • Ratio of commercial to residential: Lethbridge has a proportionately smaller commercial assessment base than most Alberta cities. Our commercial assessment base is 20 per cent of the overall tax base, while the average is 26 per cent among all Alberta cities.

  • In our latest four-year operating budget, Council introduced requirements for administration to report to us regularly on their efforts to find greater efficiencies within our city operations.
  • 2015 Efficiencies

    • eApply online permitting system for residential electric, gas and plumbing permits eliminates the need for paper and travel as well as unnecessary data re-entry for City staff.

    • Portable flood barriers are available that take a fraction of the time and use far fewer people than it would take to deploy traditional sandbags.

    • Changes to Fire/EMS response plan saw the elimination of unwarranted fire truck medical responses and reduced the workload by more than 300 calls in 2014, increasing fire crews' availability to respond to calls where they are needed most.

    • Building Management Systems (BMS) have been installed at several City facilities. These systems allow facility maintenance staff to monitor and troubleshoot building operations remotely via computer, which limits the frequency of physical building inspections and reduces time lost to travel.

    • Technology upgrades at Lethbridge Transit now help riders to plan transit trips, see where their bus is in real-time and see scheduled as well as real-time departure information for their stop – all from a desktop computer or mobile device.

    • Central Irrigation Control system detects problems with the irrigation cycle and shuts down a particular system until it is repaired so that water is not wasted. In addition, the control system can shut off the entire irrigation network much more quickly than before in the event of heavy rain.

    • Energy-efficient LED lights installed in more than 600 parks and pathway fixtures which use approximately half as much energy.

  • Many of the services that are paid through municipal taxes are such an integral part of our everyday lives that it's easy to take them for granted or not even realize, where the money is needed. This pie chart breaks down where the tax dollars go to give you a better understanding of what is needed to operate the city.


 

    • Off the top, more than 25 cents will go to the provincial education tax and Green Acres.
    • Of the remaining municipal tax, Almost 27 cents of every tax dollar collected is allocated for protective services (Lethbridge Regional Police Service and Lethbridge Fire/EMS).
    • Almost 15 cents of every tax dollar pays for community services including operational costs for our swimming pools and arenas, the ENMAX Centre, the Yates Memorial Centre, the Helen Schuler Nature Centre, regulatory services and cemetery services.
    • 6 cents of each tax dollar collected goes towards ensuring that our beautiful urban parks and green spaces are properly maintained.
    • 6.2 cents of each tax dollar collected support Lethbridge Transit and ACCESS-A-Ride. Revenues from rider fees cover only 21 per cent of the operating costs for these services; taxpayers subsidize the other 79 per cent.
    • 6.6 cents of each dollar is allocated to the Pay-As-You-Go program and internal debt repayment.
    • About 5 cents of each tax dollar pays for road maintenance which includes snow and ice control, pothole repairs, street lighting, traffic signal maintenance, street sweeping and sidewalk maintenance.  
    • 4.8 cents of each tax dollar go towards corporate services such as information technology, financial services, human resources, and assessment departments.
    • 3 cents of each tax dollar go towards governance and community development. This category includes economic development, the City Clerk's office, City Council, the City Manager's office, the City Solicitor's office and the Mayor's office.
    • 1.7 cents is allocated to other infrastructure services

  • Diversification is an important part of being fiscally responsible. Since establishing Economic Development Lethbridge (EDL) as the independent marketing arm of the City in 2003, Lethbridge has taken a strategic approach to promoting balanced economic growth.

Goal ​#3 Steward Lethbridge toward a well-designed city by ensuring quality urban design

  • Initial landscaping work began this spring on Legacy Park, a 73-acre addition to our parks north of the Uplands neighbourhood.

  • Lethbridge has more maintained park space than any other city in Canada.

  • As we build new communities we are working along side partners like the school districts and other stakeholders to make sure they meet the needs of the residents.

  • We are in the process of updating the Lethbridge River Valley Parks Master Plan to set out a long term vision that will guide how the river valley is used.

Goal #4 Foster a safe, healthy, vibrant community through inclusive policies, recreational & cultural opportunities, and collaboration

  • Many things have happened over the last year and exciting things are on the horizon that help us build a safe, healthy and vibrant community.
  • Crossings Leisure Complex
    • Phase 1  is expected to open in Spring 2016.
    • Detailed drawings are in the works for Phase 2, which will go out to tender soon.
  • Welcoming Syrian families
    • As part of the Steering Committee to Welcome Syrian People to Lethbridge, the City is working closely with Lethbridge Family Services – Immigration Services, the lead agency for Syrian resettlement. We are meeting with key local stakeholders weekly as well as conferences calls with the provincial government and other Alberta cities to receive the latest information.

    • Lethbridge is expecting to receive an estimated 240 Government-Assisted Refugees from Syria by the end of 2016. Privately sponsored refugees, supported by community groups, will be in addition to these numbers.

    • Thank you to everyone who is working so hard to make sure our new citizens feel safe, supported and welcomed.

  • Intelligent YQL

    • The city has also been on a four-year journey towards being designated as an Intelligent Community, and has been recognized as a top 21 finalist for the 2016 Intelligent Community of the Year award. The announcement came as a welcome surprise to the City of Lethbridge and Economic Development Lethbridge, who are working in partnership in the initiative. This initiative helps us best prepare for our technology-driven future. A big part of which in enabling broadband connectivity. 

  • Downtown revitalization
    • Heart of our City Housing Incentive Initiative offers interested parties the opportunity to receive up to $30,000 per new housing unit built in the Downtown.

    • The TRIP program is designed to encourage the construction of new commercial, office, retail and mixed-use buildings that will lead to significant on ongoing enhancement to the downtown core. New construction projects that are greater than $10 million in value can receive municipal tax cancellation for up to five years.

    • The Heart of Our City Committee announced that it has awarded a total of $95,000 in Heart of Our City Activity Grants to 21 qualifying events to be held in 2016 in downtown Lethbridge.

Goal #5 Take a leadership role in the protection & preservation of our natural environment

  • We saw a lot of progress in 2015 on Waste and Recycling including the new Waste Diversion Policy and our Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) Waste Diversion Strategy

  • City Council received a report from our Waste and Recycling staff which outlined a potential strategy for increasing diversion of non-residential waste from our landfill. According to the report:

    • 58 per cent of the waste that enters our landfill each year originates from the Industrial, Commercial and Institutional (ICI) sector

    • 23 per cent is residential

    • 19 per cent is generated by the Construction and Demolition sector

 

  • Council's approval of the ICI Waste Diversion Strategy addresses the sectors generating the majority of waste disposed at our landfill. The strategy implementation process beings this year.

 

  • Council has gather a great deal of information to make a decision on residential recycling. Current recommendations would see a pilot curbside recycling project begin in 2016/17 with city-wide implementation in 2018. I anticipate council will discuss the options and make a decision early in 2016.

Goal #6 Foster relationships

  • An exciting event that recently took place was Team Lethbridge's visit to Edmonton in late November.

  • This was an opportunity for a wide cross-section of community partners to meet with different provincial ministries and talk about the priorities in our city.

  • Along with some of my Council colleagues, we joined a group representing 19 different organizations to make the trip up north. It was a very positive meeting that opened doors for working collaboratively with our new provincial government.

  • We look forward to continuing to grow these relationships as we raise the profile of Lethbridge.

Lethbridge is a community that cares

There are many highlights from the last year that illustrate the spirit and caring nature of our community.

  • I am proud of how we are doing considering the economic downturn across AB. In fact, building permits are up in 2015 by 289. We are strong and resilient community.

  • I have been very impressed by the warm, supportive and welcoming response to our new Syrian families

  • I am proud of the great job Lethbridge did in hosting Skate Canada International this fall. It was a world class event because of the volunteers and spectators.

Looking forward I ecourage everyone to continue with this positive outlook as we move into 2016. We are building the future, we are building opportunity and together we are building a progressive and modern city.