During the November 24, 2023 Budget Meeting, Lacombe County Council adopted the County’s 2024 operating and capital budgets. Each year, Lacombe County Council and Administration meet to establish the annual budgets that address the priorities set out in the County’s Strategic Plan and multi-year operating and capital plans. For 2024, Council’s focus was on continuing to deliver high levels of services to our ratepayers without the need to withdraw funding from the Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve.
“The 2024 budget, with its focus on fiscal responsibility, aligns with Council's direction to minimize reliance on the Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve and underscores our commitment to transparency and efficiency,” said Michael Minchin, Director of Corporate Services. “Council voted to approve the capital and operating budgets for 2024 that recognizes the issues concerning our residents and businesses –inflation – while ensuring the expenses of maintaining and running Lacombe County are addressed.”
There are two stages in setting the budgets:
- Stage 1: Developing and approving the operating and capital budgets each year in late November or early December. Approval of the 2024 budgets authorizes the County to incur expenditures and conduct its operations commencing January 1, 2024. The budgets are based on preliminary property assessment information, and estimated Alberta Education and Lacombe Foundation requisition levies
- Stage 2: Approving the 2024 tax rate bylaw in April or May, which will establish the current year’s property tax rates by property type and gives the County authority to prepare and issue property tax notices. This occurs in the spring, after the Province sets the property tax levy for education purposes and when property assessment values have been confirmed.
Each year, Council works through the complex task of managing resources to balance present needs and future growth.
“During our budget meetings, we recognize our shared concerns with our residents, including escalating costs and the unpredictability of interest rate fluctuations. This budget is a thoughtful response to the challenges presented by our current economic environment and was carefully created to avoid imposing undue burdens on our ratepayers,” said Reeve Barb Shepherd. “Our commitment to maintaining service levels, coupled with a forward-looking perspective on the County's growth trajectory, is reflected in the 2024 budgets. We understand the importance of delivering consistent services through both our capital and operating programs and meeting the expectations of our valued ratepayers."
2024 Operating Budget
The $64,687,590, including requisitions of $14,114,660, operating budget is balanced and maintains existing service levels.
Highlights of the operating budget include:
- Providing 2023 levels of service indexed for 2024 using an inflation factor of three percent (3%), excluding the labour component. Provincial policing costs in 2024 are at the full municipal allocation. Future years will see inflationary increases only.
- Capital Budget to be funded from reserves and other income as there remains uncertainty about funding under the new Provincial capital grant program.
- 2024 is supposed to be the last year for Provincial imposed property tax reprieve for new oil and gas wells and pipelines.
2024 Capital Budget
The 2024 capital budget is $23,076,780, an increase of $2.75 million (13.53%) compared to 2023. Of the $23.08 million in capital spending in 2024, $14.66 million (63.51%) is sourced through funds set aside in prior years through the capital replacement plans, and $7.26 million (31.45%) is collected through current year’s tax dollars.
Highlights of the capital budget include:
- Fire Services - transitioning to the Alberta First Responders Radio Communications System.
- Recreation projects include upgrades to the Sunbreaker Cove boat launch, pavement overlay on the Westside County Estates trail and accessibility matting at Sandy Point Beach.
- Scheduled replacement of equipment and vehicles.
- 21.9 km of construction rehabilitation on gravel roads and 25.89 km of pavement overlay work.
**With information provided by Lacombe County