The city of Lloydminster is looking to lower spending and taxation in their newly revised budget.
A modified 2020 annual budget was presented to city council in their May 4 meeting which showed $1.2 million cut from the original budget.
The city will not be going forward with a 2.5 per cent property tax increase proposed in the last budget passed in November.
City administration found savings by pushing some projects into next year as well as costs for projects coming in lower than initially estimated. The budget includes projects that were approved earlier this year such as the new firehall and projects started in 2019 that were carried over into 2020.
Mayor Gerald Aalbers says it is an 3.3 per cent decrease in the budget overall and doesn’t expect any more major changes to the budget despite the changes made by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know that there are some additional costs and some cost savings. We’ll have a report from finances I’m sure as the year progresses as to what the difference is in operating the Servus Sports Centre and other facilities that are shut down. We’ll have staffing costs savings but we have no income either that would supplement costs.”
During the same meeting, city council also passed the first reading of the mill rate and taxable assessment bylaw. The proposed mill rate for 2020 is 9.456 for residential and 15.4382 for commercial properties. Both were brought down to below 2018 rates.
“It’s nice to see the mill rate go down. It’s really challenging, especially for the last few years when our city was growing at 3 per cent per year our assessment was growing dramatically annually which allowed the mill rate to stay lower because we had more assessed value. That’s the challenge we’ve experienced for the last four years, our growth rate is significantly lower than the previous ten years.”
A report to council showed half of city property owners will likely see between a zero to 10 per cent reduction in their taxable assessment while 13 per cent will see no changes. The city is expecting to collect just under $36 million in property taxes. In the previous budget, they were hoping to collect $37 million.
The mill rate and taxable assessment bylaw will go through a second and third reading at a special council meeting on May 11 at 1 p.m.
If it is accepted then tax notices will be printed and mailed to Lloydminster property owners in late May. Normally, they would be due by July 10 but the city has set up a deferral program which allows property owners to hold off on payment until November 10. Property owners will start incurring late fees after November 10. The city encourages property owners to pay them as soon as they can.