The City of Lacombe is continuing to grow and also may be, unintentionally, setting a good example for other governments on how to properly manage a bureaucracy during leaner times.
The city grew to 13,985 from 13,037 which is just over seven per cent since the 2016 Federal Election, all while navigating an ongoing oil recession and other local municipalities seeing net population loss during the same time.
The growth also occurred while the city has maintained municipal tax increases to inflation, without the need to make major cuts to their services or operations.
This type of capable administrative example is something the Province of Alberta’s current regime should take a hard look at heading into their impending Budget.
Currently, frontline workers in health, education, social services — and basically anything government — are bracing for assumed provincial cuts that some worry could see the purging of thousands of jobs. This is something that all Albertans should take notice of.
While most reasonable people understand that the government legers should be balanced and that governments should operate with the intent to escape debt and deficit — that understanding is often negated after receiving poor healthcare or education.
While politicians will often like to use the catchphrase of, “Running government like a business” to gain political points and rile up their base — this approach rings hollow when members of that same base are forced to sit in an emergency room due to lack of staffing, or their kids with added needs do not receive adequate support due to the inability for a school division to hire teaching assistants.
To put it more succinctly, everyone likes saving money until they are the ones in crisis and require the help of essential services who provide care for society’s most vulnerable.
Given this, the Province can look to the partnership between Lacombe City administration and council on how to properly navigate economic challenges without severely limiting government’s ability to react to the needs of their community.
Administration was met with the not-so-simple challenge from council to maintain taxation at CPI, but due to the partnership between administration, council and partnering businesses and municipalities — they have been able to do so thus far.
The City of Lacombe recognizes that Lacombe still needs to maintain the same level of roads, water, wastewater, policing, fire services and other essential services that their populace expects, while also being as fiscally responsible and transparent as possible.
The Province of Alberta should take note and realise Albertans deserve the same level of health, education, social services, frontline workers and other essential services necessary to help those who need it.
After all, every Albertan is one crisis away from not caring how much it costs to help their loved ones.