On Friday, November 18, Lethbridge City Council completed deliberations as Economic Standing Policy Committee for its 2023-2026 Operating Budget.
Members of the Economic SPC voted unanimously to recommend City Council approve the 2023-2026 Operating Budget, as amended.
The recommendations from deliberations will be forwarded to City Council for potential approval at the regular meeting on November 29. In accordance with Municipal Government Act requirements, City Council must approve an operating budget by December 31 so the City can pass a property tax bylaw.
The draft 2023-2026 Operating Budget had forecasted an average annual municipal property tax base increase of 3.77 per cent for each of the next four years. With new initiatives being recommended, the increase is now proposed at 5.10 per cent for each of the next four years. This is equivalent to a $129.93 per year per single family residence, based on an average market value of $285,800.
In 2019, there was a 1.82 per cent municipal tax rate increase – which was the lowest in 20 years. The City of Lethbridge then maintained a zero per cent increase to the municipal portion of residential taxes for the three years of 2020, 2021 and 2022 to minimize the financial impacts of the pandemic to property owners.
Friday's deliberations included the following items:
- N-43: Economic Development Lethbridge – Operational Excellence Proposed funding source is taxation for $51,694 in 2023, $84,261 in 2024, $106,624 in 2025 and $129,434 in 2026, as well as a Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve (MRSR) one-time allocation of $57,000 in 2023, $46,500 in 2024, $41,500 in 2025 and $24,000 in 2026. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would capture incremental costs of wage and benefit inflation, as well as a provision for replacement of the organization's aging website and digital platform.
- N-44: Environment Lethbridge – Fee for Service Proposed funding source is taxation for $28,000 per year in each of the four years in the budget cycle, as well as utility charges for $42,000 per year in each of the four years in the budget cycle. Funding for 2025 and 2026 will be contingent upon a review and report back to Council through the Civic Works SPC by December 2024. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would provide core funding in support of Environment Lethbridge's strategic priorities. Administration and Environment Lethbridge would also work with the University of Lethbridge to explore a strategic plan for the mutual interests and work of both organizations.
New items introduced Friday:
- C-13: Honorariums for Boards, Commissions and Committees (BCCs) Proposed funding source is taxation for $42,000 per year in each of the four years in the budget cycle. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. Administration would also be asked to develop a policy and report back through Governance SPC.
Read the Day 4 recap here, the Day 3 recap here, the Day 2 recap here and the Day 1 recap here.