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Council approves 2018 budget including tax raise, lower operational costs

The City of Lloydminster has given the green light to the 4th draft of the 2018 budget, which includes a tax increase. The increase will raise the overall property tax in the city $6.5 million.

That means a home valued at $350,000 will pay $29 more a month. It will bring up city revenues to $79,625,894. Councillor Jonathan Torresan says a property tax increase is necessary as other means of revenue for the city are not as available anymore.

“We have relied for too many years on land sales and supplemented our property taxes with that as well as the utilities. That’s something that’s not going to be an option moving forward.”

Torresan adds that there is pressure from the province and federal government because they are reducing the amount of money given in grants.

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The city has also reduced operating expenses in the final budget by $105,110 which will create a surplus of $711,409. That will be added to the $166,515 currently in the operational reserve, will bring the total up to $877, 924.

In terms of capital projects, the city has increased the transfers from capital reserves by 15 per cent to just under $18.2 million. Carryover project costs have increased in the final budget by 4 per cent to $19.9 million.

In total, the final capital expense in the budget is  $51,834,856. Mayor Gerald Aalbers says ignoring capital projects could create major problems for the city.

“If we don’t continue to spend capital money in doing restorations and improvements in the property we own today, fixing the streets, the sewer and water lines, you literally go into a deficit situation and then sooner or later you’re going to look like Detroit.”

He adds that infrastructure such as the cast-iron water pipes were made with the best technology at the time, but are in need of upgrades.

While council passed the budget today, it has the ability to amend the budget by resolution. It could do that after receiving the final mill rate calculation, grants that the city could be given and education requisitions from the provinces.

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