Despite the economic strains the province is facing, both the general public and stakeholders of Leduc continue to see their city as a vibrant, healthy community.
At council’s Aug. 24 meeting the results of the 2016 budget survey were presented.
Banister Research and Consulting vice-president Tracy With summarized: “Stakeholders were tending on, in general, to look for spending to go up. Which is an interesting item given the state of the economy in Alberta.”
With says this does not fit the trend of the rest of the province.
With says overall both parties are looking for increased funding in certain areas but want the council to remain balanced. “The strategies, it’s just ‘be cautious.’”
The survey was done in January of this year. It was first conducted in 2012 and has been held every consecutive year to give council an idea of what residents thought of the current year’s budget and how they would like the next year’s to take shape.
Along with recruited stakeholders, 179 members of the general public participated in the web-based survey. “And this is not random, this is self-selected,” said With.
“That’s actually doubled since 2012,” she added.
With showed councillors what the public and the stakeholders feel are the major issues facing council. Between the two groups, four categories were the same.
Stakeholders and the general public have a focus on road, sidewalk and infrastructure maintenance, maintaining taxes; improving maintenance and infrastructure and controlling rapid growth of the community.
Within the general public, its unique concern was schools. For the stakeholders, traffic control and flow, access and crossing.
“This year we saw folks rating the dollars that they’re spending on municipal taxes; eight per cent excellent, 31 per cent very good value and 39 per cent good value,” said With. “So these are excellent scores for you, and we did see an actual shift up in the positive side of these ratings.
With says stakeholders also rated tax dollars spent positively at; eight per cent, 29 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively.
The survey was also broken down into larger service categories provided by the city.
With says there was a significant increase in the general population results and many wish for an increase in spending for police protection. “So we did see that on both the stakeholders side and the general population side.”
“And police protection is an interesting one, though that one we’ve seen spike in a few communities just given some of the current events,” she added.
Fire and ambulance results remained contestant with previous years; 14 per cent in the increase category. “And if they didn’t want an increase . . . they want it to stay the same,” said With.
“You’re not looking at making any changes to ambulance service in the next year because people want that service to remain the same,” she added.
The stakeholders for fire and ambulance was similar to the general public, with slightly more on an interest in increasing funding with 24 per cent to 14 per cent.
For public services With says there was a minor decrease in the spend less category and a minor decrease in the spend more category, coming from the general population. “Very consistent on our stakeholder web side of the survey.”
“Leduc Recreation Centre though, we did see a significant increase looking to increase funding, from the general population,” With explained. A corresponding decrease in the spend less category was noted.
The stakeholders results remained similar to last year.
“In terms of snow removal, this is the touchy one that we always like to look at, couldn’t have been more consistent,” said With. She explained to council the people of Leduc were happy with last year’s operations and would like to see them continued.
Community development and service planning also remained on par with last year’s survey. “Though, we did see on the stakeholders’ side an increase in those that are looking to have slightly less given to that service.”
With says in terms of the library, now that it is up, the people are good with relaxing the amount of funds it receives.
Coun. David MacKenzie felt a trend emerged from the results, in which areas the city has recently addressed, such as the new fire hall, new library and splash park, the people are now looking for less or similar support to go those routes without an increase.
However, given the interest in an increase for the Leduc Recreation Center With feels more research may need to focus on that area. “That’s an interesting one because we haven’t seen that change in a number of years.
With says public transit “took at hit” this year and people looking for a decrease there as well.
Mayor Greg Krischke feels this follows emerging trends. He believes now that there are three routes within the city rather than just back and forth to Edmonton people can see the need is being taken care of. “They’re all brand new,” he explained, referring to the community buses.
Results show wishes for FCSS and parks and athletic field maintenance was also consistent with the previous years.