The final budget for the City of Lloydminster has been passed by city council.
On Monday afternoon, council met at City Hall for their scheduled meeting, with the biggest item on the agenda being the budget. It was the fourth time the municipal administration had brought forward a budget to council, after three draft budgets were changed to reduce the municipal deficit.
With the final budget now approved, a property tax rate rise of around four per cent and an added cost for stormwater infrastructure on resident’s water bills will come into effect in 2017.
Lloydminster mayor Gerald Aalbers defended the rises after the meeting, saying that they were needed to keep up service levels.
“We are elected, and we have to account for the budget, but on a day to day basis, administration handles those details,” said Aalbers.
“They run the city. We gave them direction. Is it perfect? No budget is perfect, no one will ever agree that a budget is perfect, but I think we’ve reached a good compromise.”
Aalbers said that while he had campaigned on zero tax increases in Lloydminster, he knew that residents understood that costs go up. He said families can budget on paying four per cent more than they paid last year in property taxes, and that the mill rate for the community had yet to set.
As for the stormwater cost rising, Aalbers stated that it would be necessary to build a reserve to maintain the city’s stormwater infrastructure.
He also expressed a desire to show residents the condition of the current stormwater system, which flows eastwards out of the city into Neale Lake, and from there into a series of drainage channels formerly owned by Ducks Unlimited. The organization gave control over to the City in previous years.
According to dialogue in the council chamber and the budget documents, repair to the system is a priority for the municipal government.
“I’ve seen pictures, and I want to share those pictures with the community, so people can ask those questions about why it’s in the shape that it’s in,” said Aalbers.
“It was built 30 years ago. Things deteriorate, they need to be replaced. We inherited that system, otherwise we’d have a bigger cost.”
The mill rate for Lloydminster will be set later in 2017.