City of Leduc council endorsed a plan that will help provide a framework for council when it comes to making strategic financial decisions as the city continues to grow.
At the Nov. 10 council meeting, Craig Binning of Hemson Consulting Ltd. presented council with a Long-term Financial Sustainability Plan that supports the City’s budget principals and will provide a tool for councilors to make strong financial decisions.
The plan was put together after the City of Leduc and the City of Fort Saskatchewan partnered in order to access a Provincial Regional Collaboration Grant. Hemson Consulting Ltd. was hired to undertake the Long-Term Financial Sustainability Plan for both cities. This made it possible for the two communities to share and compare practices, policies, findings and results.
“The City [of Leduc] is starting from an advantageous position,” said Binning, noting the City is in a position to fund current capital and operational projects with manageable tax increases. He noted that short-term increases could be further smoothed with additional analysis and adjustments to the timing of expenditures.
Focussing on financial viability, management, flexibility and sustainability, the plan identifies measurable goals, targets and objectives.
Binning congratulated council on having the foresight to establish reserves as, “reserve contributions will make it possible to fund future needs in relation to growth.” Those reserves, however, will decrease in the short-term as the City pays for capital projects that have been identified in 2014-2017. Binning recommended the City access grants wherever possible before dipping into those reserves.
While communities across the country struggle with managing infrastructure deficit, Binning said Leduc is better off than most because it is a young community that continues to grow and develop and has taken steps to better understand the longterm asset by conducting regular sewer main inspections, using a pavement management system, using building condition software and approving of a Facilities Master Plan.
Binning advised that the city should continue to monitor this, but also use historical data and infrastructure assessments to determine the useful life of these assets. He also noted it was important to ensure there is enough reserve funding available when coupled with capital funding to meet today’s needs while looking to the future needs of the City.
“Managing expenditures is critical to the City’s future”, said Binning.
With additional funding pressures coming from protective services and being out of the city’s direct control, Binning said it’s critical the City manage the timing and extent of future infrastructure and service expansion, particularly for services that depend strongly on the tax levies like transit and protective services.
“The upward pressure on expenditure and taxation revenue is forecast to be greater than base inflation,” said Binning, “but is more consistent with the City of Leduc’s Municipal Price Index.”
“Continued growth and development in the city will place upward pressure on expenditures to meet the servicing needs and demands of new and existing residents and businesses.”
In the last decade, Leduc’s population has grown by 74.2 per cent and is forecasted to continue to grow by five per cent until 2021. Employment levels are expected to continue to be on par with the city’s population grown. Currently 44 per cent of residents work in Leduc and 25 per cent work nearby in Nisku, Leduc County and at the Edmonton International Airport.
At the conclusion of the report, Councillor Glen Finstad said the long-term plan will make it possible for council and administration to look at what they are currently doing, what they should be doing and how to bridge the gap between the two.
The plan was adopted by council for future planning purposes.