City Hall has released the first draft of their annual budget.
The draft was presented at City Council on Monday, and projects that the city’s revenue will fall by 13.81% in 2016. Based on results in the Dollars and Sense budget survey, city hall has decided to raise property taxes 2.3%, or $5.20 per month on an average sized home.
Director of Finance Nicole Reineger says that balancing the budget with reduced revenue was difficult.
“The team has worked really hard to be really efficient in their numbers,” Reineger said. “You can see only a 2% increase in overall expenses, and when you’re looking at some salary increases of 2.75%, it’s been a great challenge for all of us. You lose revenue of $15 million, [and] you have to really get creative on how you’re going to proceed and move forward. So there was a lot of work done by a lot of people to get to this point. We’ve looked at really trying to streamline some of the operations to get us to a point where we can move forward with a balanced, fiscally responsible budget.”
City Councillor Linnea Goodhand has expressed frustration in past council meetings about how few people participated in public engagement efforst, such as the Dollars and Sense survey. She says she’s not sure following the tax increase recommended by the respondents is the right thing to do.
“I think the idea that there’s going to be an increase is not shocking to any of us who have been looking at the numbers,” Goodhand said. “The number of that increase, I guess, is still left to be decided. I think there’s been a recommendation put forward today, and it’s reflective of the engagement survey. I want to respect the people that participated, absolutely. I’m just not sure how much weight to give it… but there shall be an increase. Our expenses are up, and there’s going to have to be an additional contribution by the taxpayers.”
City Hall is calling for the public to give feedback on the draft, and recommend changes. To review the budget go to lloydminster.ca/budget, and email feedback to [email protected]
The budget will be discussed at a special council meeting on Thursday, December 3, at 8:30 a.m.