Lacombe County Council adopts 2021 interim budgets

Lacombe County Council has adopted the County’s 2021 interim operating and capital budgets. This budget supports the maintenance of existing service levels while managing the County’s spending in a responsible manner that reflects the current economic situation and follows the priorities set out in the County’s Strategic Plan, long-range road construction plan, and capital equipment replacement plan.

“Over the last few years, Lacombe County has faced many unique challenges facing our economy, including a significant loss in revenue from oil and gas well taxes and now the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tim Timmons, County Manager. “On November 27, Council voted to approve an interim budget for 2021 that recognizes the challenges and uncertainty in our province.”

Interim operating and capital budgets are approved each year. They are the first stage of a two-stage process that authorizes the County to spend on approved projects and conduct operations on January 1, 2021. Stage 2 is the approval of the final budgets and tax rates and occurs in the following spring when the Province sets the property tax levy for education purposes and when property assessment values have been confirmed.

2021 Interim Operating Budget

The $55,307,620 interim operating budget is balanced and maintains existing service levels. The County is awaiting decisions from the Province concerning regulated industrial assessments and rural policing costs before finalizing the budget in the spring of 2021.

Some highlights of the operating budget include:

  • An allowance for the proposed assessment reductions for oil and gas assessments of $180,000.  The exact amount of the proposed changes for the 2021 tax year are yet to be fully calculated.
  • The elimination of the Well Drilling Tax is also recognized in this budget.
  • To offset these revenue changes, upcoming vacancies in several positions will remain vacant.
  • Other cost savings were achieved through adjustments to material costs such as fuel.
  • The 2021 interim budget includes a 0% municipal tax rate increase.  

2021 Interim Capital Budget

The 2021 interim capital budget is $18,636,330, a decrease of $14.91 million (-44.45%) compared to 2020. Highlights of the capital budget include:

  • A decrease in road projects of $4.312 million.
  • An increase of $832,930 for bridge projects, including both replacements and engineering.
  • Equipment and vehicle replacements decrease by $2,514,570.
  • Completion of the West QEII utility servicing project.

“It’s important to note that of the $18.636 million in capital spending in 2021, $6 million (32.2%) is sourced through funds set aside in prior years through the capital replacement plans. This is compared to $18.4 million in 2020,” explained Lacombe County Reeve Paula Law. “By using our capital reserves, funds from equipment trade-ins, and capital grants, we can ensure that we are moving forward with crucial projects that will keep Lacombe County moving in a positive direction.”

Each year, Council works through the complex task of managing resources to balance present needs and future growth.

“Maintaining service levels and considering the County's future growth is factored into the 2021 interim budgets, as we know that our ratepayers expect excellent service through our infrastructure and maintenance programs,” said Reeve Law. “There are many challenges facing our municipality and Council feels this budget will balance the reality of the many uncertainties facing Lacombe County, without negatively impacting our ratepayers.”