After a long debate, Lac La Biche County Council approved the 2022 municipal budget during a special December 21 Council Meeting.
This was one of the final special meetings council held dedicated to discussing the budget.
The operating expenditures for 2022 were set at $61,365,867, and new capital spending is $32,297,806, which is higher than last year. This new budget is based on a 0% total tax revenue increase that is subject to change in the property assessment.
Major capital projects in 2022 total $32,297,806 and include:
- $27 million for the Aquatics Centre adjacent to the Bold Center (funded in part with grant funding and a possible debenture)
- $16.4 million for a multi-year investment in the Main Street Utility Replacement and Revitalization in the hamlet of Lac La Biche (Phases 2 and 3, funded with a possible debenture)
- $4.3 million for the Young’s Beach Paving Project
- $1.8 million for Bridge File 72382 (Range Road 132 south of Highway 55, 30 km south of the hamlet of Lac La Biche)
- $1.6 million for the Bold Center Sports Field Change Room Facility (partially allocated from reserves, and funding set aside in 2021)
- $200,000 in 2022 for a multi-year back lane paving program (year 2 of a 5-year program)
$6.7 million has been set aside this year in reserves and by the end of 2022, the County will have $31.3 million in accumulated reserves. This will let the municipality replace and build new infrastructure as needed.
Alongside this new budget, the council talked about two bylaws that will allow the County to borrow funds for the Aquatics Centre and Main Street Revitalization Projects.
The Main Street Revitalization Project debenture bylaw received its third and final reading but will face a revised design and will see a come back for Council approval early in the new year.
The Aquatics Centre debenture bylaw received its first reading. Under the Municipal Government Act, before receiving a third and final reading, the Aquatics Centre debenture bylaw requires advertising for two consecutive weeks to allow the public sufficient time to petition against the borrowing if they wish.
Additionally, Council approved a two-year plan to phase in salary changes for County staff. This new policy will set pay grids to be similar to other municipalities, and staff will receive a 1% cost of living allowance increase as of July 10, 2022.
A news release clarifies what this means practically
“Council will not receive additional pay. The Mayor’s salary has been adjusted to reflect actual pay from the previous three years. The Mayor will now receive $110,143 base pay (plus applicable benefits). From this point forward, the Mayor will only receive this compensation regardless of how many meetings or community events they attend.”
Lac La Biche County Mayor Paul Reutov says this new budget will set a new direction for Lac La Biche County. “The projects we have planned in 2022 will attract new residents and tourists, encourage new business ventures, and diversify our economy. We are working to modernize and grow our community: with this budget, along with other possible investments like a marina, Lac La Biche County has a bright future ahead.”
A full summary of the budget will be posted on the County’s website in the coming weeks. Council will set municipal tax rates in the spring of 2022 after assessments are determined.