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Council gets a first look at next year’s proposed budget

Lloydminster taxpayers could be facing a 3.5 per cent increase in taxes to maintain services in the next fiscal year. That’s part of the deliberations before Council as it got a look at the draft figures based on several economic realities like inflation and a reduction from the Alberta government.

Mayor Gerald Aalbers reflected on the numbers as the draft presentation wrapped on Wednesday afternoon.

“We are facing  a 6 per cent increase alone with the taxes with the RCMP’s salary approval from the Federal government. We are facing a 3.1 million dollar less grant from the Alberta government and we don’t know where Saskatchewan lies. So when we talk about a 3.5 per cent increase to maintain the services that our community experiences each and every day, I think we came ahead on this one.”

Aalbers recognized that some people may not see it that way. He pointed to the inflationary pressures. He looked back to previous budgets and said they are meeting the capital needs, but there could be improvements on the operations side as they try to find more cost savings to maintain a balanced budget.

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“It was discussed around the council table, that (the budget) took care of the shingles on the house when they need to be replaced. This is very much a maintenance budget. We see some items being replaced, but overall, this is not an enhanced budget.”

Aalbers said the budget draft has about 38 million committed to operations and about 74.6 million dollars to capital works with most of that being towards the new Wastewater Treatment plant.

Council also got a look at capital spending projections over the next 10 years which shows the need for 440 million dollars to replace facilities like the Civic Centre Arena.

“We have some huge challenges ahead of us that we need to continue to address. We are going to maintain buildings. We are going to ensure when a building has to be replaced. And there was discussion today, and there’s money in the budget for a new recreational complex, because we know the Civic Centre is reaching a point in it’s life. It’s still very safe to use and will be used as long as possible. But in the same token, we don’t build a new arena in one day.”

Aalbers remained hopeful that with oil revenues increasing, the Alberta government would revisit it’s fiscal support to municipalities and he held similar optimism as resource revenues are picking up for Saskatchewan.

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