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Council Committee to receive economic update next week

Lethbridge City Council will convene as Economic and Finance Standing Policy Committee beginning Tuesday, November 14, for an overview of the current economic conditions and the impact they have on the City’s financial position and resources.

The proceedings will begin Tuesday with an Economic Update presentation from Darrell Mathews, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. He will highlight the following topics: economic conditions; taxation pressures; utility pressure; Operating and Capital pressures; and impact on reserves.

In addition to about 20 presentations and submissions on a number of matters (the full agenda can be viewed here), Mathews will also provide a status update of the 2023-2026 Operating Budget Initiatives. This summary report includes the initiatives’ budget, actuals, performance measurements and the results achieved as of August 31, 2023.

“We look forward to providing the Economic and Finance SPC of City Council with options and tools to assist with future financial decisions to continue to meet the needs of the growing community,” says Mathews. “Our department continues to work hard within the challenging economic climate to deliver effective and efficient financial planning for Council, staff and for our residents.”

On August 24, 2021, City Council approved the streamlining of the Operating and Capital budgets to achieve an aligned four-year CIP and Operating Budget cycle. As part of the change, Council will start ongoing annual reviews of the Operating and Capital budgets.

Annual financial forecasts will be reduced from twice per year to once per year in preparation for Council’s annual budget review. As always, administration will continue to report urgent or unusual financial information to Audit Committee, Economic and Finance SPC or City Council, as required.

“This updated process will help provide greater budgetary oversight, better connect the Capital and Operating budgets and help Council strategically focus on revenues and expenditures,” says Mayor Blaine Hyggen. “It will also give Council more opportunities to review budgets during the course of their term.”

The City’s Capital budget is a plan that includes one-time construction costs and associated funding sources required to complete capital projects in the community. The City's Operating Budget involves the day-to-day costs of delivering municipal services and programs such as police, emergency services, roads and parks.

More background on the City's finances and documents can be found here. A breakdown of value-added life in Lethbridge (including tax rate increase trends of the past 20 years) can be found here.

The Economic and Finance SPC meeting will begin at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, November 14, and go until noon. They are also scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 15, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday, November 16. These meetings are open to the public and will be livestreamed on the City's YouTube page.

Any recommendations from the Committee will be forwarded to City Council for potential approval at a regular meeting.

Timeline background:

  • November 2022: City Council approved the 2023-2026 Operating Budget
  • July 2022: City Council approved existing 2026 capital projects within the 2022-2031 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to align with Operating Budget timelines to allow the 2023-2026 Operating and Capital budgets to be aligned and set the stage for future budget deliberations
  • August 2021: The previous Council approved an enhanced budgeting process that will align the approvals of the four-year cycle of Operating Budget and the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) into the same year. This change will also add an annual review and adjustment of the budgets for years two, three and four of the cycle. This was a change from the previous practice where Council debated and approved a four-year budget cycle every two years (alternating between CIP and Operating Budget)
  • June 2021: The previous Council approved the 2022-2031 Capital Improvement Program (CIP)

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