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Final city budget up for approval

City council are set to make their final approval of the municipal budget on Monday.

Council last met on the topic in December, prior to the Christmas holiday, and agreed on an interim operating budget to keep the municipal government running. They also requested the administration of the City to come back with a more detailed breakdown of where money had been earmarked to spend, and where it had been planned to save.

The final budget, attached to Monday’s agenda, provides that breakdown.

According to the breakdown, the municipal deficit now stands at $0, after numerous cuts, with an operational surplus of $35,069.

The total operating cash amount budgeted for 2017 is set at $78,279,339. Property taxes are set to bring in $23,770,572, a rise of $3000 from the last draft budget. The total capital levy stands at $4,424,786, along with $2 million set to be raised from a stormwater user fee.

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Operating grants to community organizations in the Border City are also included in the budget, with a total of $3,776,839 set to be given out. The amount of grant funding in the final budget was dropped by $77,000 from $3,853,839.

A series of appendixes attached to the final draft also show the budgets of individual departments. The documents show a series of cuts across the board.

For City Council, contracted services increased to $276,786, up by $5,308 from 2016. However, the salaries, wages, and benefits listed for the office have been reduced by $46,518, from $310,770, to $264,252.

The City Manager’s office also saw significant cuts, with contracted services down to $277,171, down from $302,212 in 2016. Salaries and benefits were also dropped to $576,552, down from $696,023.

Each department’s budget summary can be viewed in the documents, which are available here: http://www.lloydminster.ca/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/1477

The municipal property tax rate will also be finalized during the meeting.

Lloydminster mayor Gerald Aalbers had previously discussed a rate rise of four per cent, while stating he had no firm answer on where the rate will end up.

“Let’s be honest, no one wants a tax increase,” said Aalbers, previously.

“If I could bring in a budget in, and lead council to a two per cent (increase) that would be a more realistic number, in everybody’s opinion. If it takes four per cent, I think people realize that at the end of the day, when as a city, our previous council and administration have done the best they could do with what they had, now this is where we’re going to put into the position, there may be a four per cent (increase).”

Aalbers didn’t have an answer on whether the rate could rise.

“That’s why we want to do the best that we could do, for the residents and the taxpayers of this city, to examine that as best as we can, and that answer will be very clearly made to you as soon as that budget is finalized.”

Aalbers promised that the rate will be “fully worked over” to make it as low as it could be.

In order for the budget to become final, council will need to approve the document. The bylaws making the dissolution of the LEDC official will also be voted on during the meeting.

The meeting will take place at 1:30 p.m.

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