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Finance Committee set for Operating Budget Review

Lethbridge City Council will convene as Finance Committee beginning Monday, November 23, to start on the City of Lethbridge 2021-2022 Operating Budget Review.

 City Council this week voted unanimously to set a target for a zero per cent property tax rate increase and a zero per cent utility rate increase for 2021. Council also voted unanimously to direct administration to implement KPMG-identified workforce reductions over a three-year period, using a combination of attrition and retirement, to achieve a $5 million of savings in salaries and benefits.

"As Finance Committee, we have some very difficult decisions to make," says Councillor Rob Miyashiro, who as current Deputy Mayor will chair the Operating Budget Review deliberations. "It's important to look at our expenditures and our current service levels, especially now during the COVID pandemic, to ensure the budget reflects the new economic environment we are all living in." 

 The agenda can be found here: https://agendas.lethbridge.ca/  

The 2021-2022 Operating Budget Review will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, November 23. The meeting will recess by 5 p.m. each day and reconvene at 9 a.m. the following day. These deliberations are open to the public to watch can be found online at agendas.lethbridge.ca or on Shaw TV Lethbridge. Residents can also follow live updates on Twitter through the City Clerk's account at @LethCityClerk (https://twitter.com/LethCityClerk).

Background:

City Council members met as Finance Committee in November 2018 to debate and recommend a four-year operating budget for the City of Lethbridge. With an annual 1.82 per cent increase for the municipal portion of the property tax rate, the 2019-2022 Operating Budget received final approval from City Council on December 10, 2018.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, on May 11, 2020, City Council approved a one-time zero per cent municipal tax rate increase.

On May 19, 2020, Councillor Belinda Crowson sponsored a motion, which was unanimously supported, to reopen the four-year budget to take into account the additional costs incurred through the City's COVID-19 response, the recommendations of the KPMG operational review, and changes to provincial funding.

On June 29, 2020, City Council passed a resolution that instructed the City Manager to investigate and report back to Council through the Finance Committee ways and means to enact a corporate-wide expense reduction, including the Boards, Commissions and Committees, on the following two options: 1. Five per cent overall reduction in corporate expenses; and 2. 10 per cent overall reduction in corporate expenses.

On November 9, 2020, the 2021-22 Operating Budget review draft document was presented to Finance Committee.

On November 16, 2020, City Council voted unanimously to set a target for a zero per cent property tax rate increase and a zero per cent utility rate increase for 2021.

Council has asked the City Manager to propose options based on the approved target to amend the 2021 Operating Budget by eliminating the scheduled 3.64 per cent increase for the 2021 municipal tax rate (2020 and 2021 combined), which would reduce the tax rate increase to zero per cent in 2021.