Leduc County and city have prepared 2016 interim budgets

Budgets are shaping up for both Leduc city and county

Leduc County

Leduc County’s interim 2016 budget is set with a total operating revenue of $73.1 million and balanced operating expenditures of the same.

The proposed capital budget is $13.1 million with $8 million of that funded through tax dollars.

County communications co-ordinator Megan Candie says some of the largest capital projects included in the budget are the purchasing of two fire pumper trucks and one fire rescue truck for $1.5 million, capital bridge repairs at $633,000, purchasing two graders for $910,000 and the road program (including rehabilitation, Nisku, subdivisions and new) $8.2 million.

Within the interim budget there are no projects carried forward from 2015; that subject will be brought forward for the 2016 final budget.

Due to limited tax dollars other capital projects had to be deferred or removed from council’s agenda, says Candie.

Grants also remain an important aspect of the county’s budget. “We have budgeted in the 2016 interim budget for some annual grants based on 2015 funding levels but at this time 2016 grant funding has not been approved. As a result, it is difficult to confirm what the grant situation will look like for 2016 until approvals are received,” said Candie in an email to the Leduc-Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer.

“As in previous years, we will be applying for grant funding from Municipal Sustainability Initiative and Gas Tax Fund Program. We are always looking to find and apply for available grant funding in order to alleviate the requirement to fund projects through tax dollar,” she added.

One of the major challenges council faced while setting the interim budget was limiting tax dollars needed to a two per cent increase. This requires each department to find savings within their own budgets to fund known expenditure increases.

“The overall budget had to be reviewed and priorities examined in order to stay within the budget guideline,” said Candie.

Overall, the budget for this year will not change significantly from 2015, says Candie. It will maintain the 2015 service levels but will have fluctuations in departmental budgets.

City of Leduc

In its proposed interim budget the City of Leduc is looking at $91.1 million in operating revenues and $91.1 million in expenditures.

With many large capital project programs on the table, the city’s capital projects budget is $48.5 million. Within that total, $17.9 million comes from reserves, $10.6 million from grants, $15 million from debentures and $4.97 million will be garnered through developer levies.

Leduc’s Road Capital Program, including Leduc Estates, Meadowview, Caledonia, Arterials, and Airport Road will tie up $9.6 million of the capital budget.

The Engineering Capital Program, including oversizing of major waterlines, utility system improvements, water distribution upgrades, snow storage sites and city sanitary trunk oversizing comes in at $3.7 million.

The Development Capital Program, which is funded solely by developers, includes the city’s southeast water reserve, a lift station and a force main line in the west totals $14.7 million of the budget.

Other important capital projects council approved include wayfinding signage for $100,000; downtown redevelopment phases 1 and 2 for $2.2 million and storm pond silt removal at $530,000.

Some of the capital projects are carry-overs from 2015, such as the downtown redevelopment. “Many of our larger projects take two to three years to complete so it is not uncommon for projects to flow year over year. The Downtown Redevelopment Plan is an excellent example of this which will take two years to complete starting in 2015 and ending in 2016. This was coordinated with the timing of the Summer Games in 2016,” said Mariann McLaughlin, corporate communications officer, in an email.

Annexation area lift station and force main, trunk water mains, annexation area sanitary trunk main oversize, asset management and Airport Road are other capital projects carrying forward from last year.

While the budget was being prepared, administration reviewed drivers of work within the community. This includes regional collaboration efforts, the state of the economy and how it could affect growth and the fact that there is a two to three year lag on taking over responsibility for maintenance of new subdivisions.

Following, it was determined the complete review of the city’s current Municipal Development Plan would have to be spread over the next three years rather than fully completing the task in 2016.

“As well, it became apparent that we needed to put a higher degree of focus and effort on diversifying our local and regional economy through the further implementation and promotion of Aerotropolis,” said McLaughlin.

For 2016 the budget was arranged status quo with respect to grants. Most are distributed by the provincial government and the City of Leduc will not receive a final conformation of numbers until the spring.

Some anticipated grants include the Municipal Sustainability Initiative Grant for $5.9 million, the Basic Capital Grant at $1.8 million and the Federal Gas Tax Grant for $1.5 million.

“One area of change that we saw in 2016 was the elimination of the Alberta Social Housing Corporation Grant in place of municipal property tax. This had a $95,000 unfavorable impact on our tax revenue which generated a 0.26 per cent tax revenue increase requirement for 2016,” said McLaughlin.

The economic slowdown has been a challenge the budget faces, yet finding a balance between expectations and services remains at the forefront. “To compound this further, the City is impacted through delayed growth; although the economy has taken a down turn, our service base is still expanding.

It is important to realize that after the Final Acceptance Certificate for a new subdivision is received and the warranty period for the contractor has ended the City of Leduc takes over all responsibility for the assets,” said McLaughlin.

“This year we exercised a high level of responsible budget planning by viewing the operating requirements in a longer fiscal horizon so that we could understand how today’s economic impact may potentially affect 2016 and beyond,” she added.

City administration is implementing various strategies to continue to provide services at current levels without needing to use additional funds; utility billing enhancements and implementing a revenue registry.

There were finding increases of $1,000 or more given to several community organizations for 2016: the 2nd Leduc Scouts Association, Leduc 4-H Beef Club, Leduc Ringette Association, Terry Fox Foundation Leduc chapter, Santa’s Helpers Society, St. Vincent de Paul and Family Violence Prevention Team.

Leduc Kanata Gymnastics and Stageworks Academy of the Performing Arts are both receiving $25,000 each for capital requirements on their buildings.

“2016 was the final year of the dedicated multi-year funding strategy for Protective Services 4 years in total. This included two additional firefighters to meet operational requirements for the second fire hall and one RCMP member,” said McLaughlin.

Also approved was the Police Resource Plan, which includes the additions: one community peace officer and three detachment clerks.