The 2023 municipal budget for Lac La Biche County has been approved after 6 special meetings dedicated to budget deliberations.
The operating expenditures for 2023 are set at $63,045,906 and new capital spending is $42,645,819. This budget comes with a 2.64% total tax revenue increase which is subject to changes in property assessment. The tax revenues were raised to help balance the budget and maintain the County’s high service levels.
Besides the debenture for $12 million approved in 2022 for the new Aquatics Centre and the $16.4 million debenture approved in 2022 for the Lac La Biche Main Street Revitalization Project, two more debentures were considered in 2023.
The Lac La Biche Main Street Revitalization Project is expected to cost more than previously estimated because of the rise in construction prices. The new options to fund the remaining amount will be brought to Council in the New Year.
Finally, the McArthur Park project which looks to transform the space with more recreational features like a skate park is proposed as a debenture for $6.3 million and will be phased in over 3 years instead of the planned 5 years. Two bylaws will be brought forward that will allow the County to borrow funds for these projects.
Other 2023 budget highlights include:
- $2 million for 101A Street and 104 Avenue water and sewer replacement, and $808,000 for 105 Street water and sewer replacement, both in the hamlet of Lac La Biche. Over time, this work will reduce the likelihood of water main breaks and the operating costs needed to make necessary repairs on aging infrastructure.
- $620,000 for capital upgrades to the Lac La Biche Golf Course, which follows the 7-year plan in the approved Golf Course Master Plan to keep the course’s infrastructure (paved paths, building a maintenance shop, etc.) in good condition.
- $1.2 million for Railway Crossing Signals (the Plamondon-Caslan Connector and 105 Avenue in Lac La Biche), partially funded by federal grant dollars.
- $991,163 for Maccagno Boat Launch Culvert and Kiniuso (Missawawi) Bridge.
This year a total of $7,305,704 is being set aside in reserves. By the end of 2023, the County will have $39,804,409 in accumulated reserves to replace and build new infrastructure as needed.
Two open houses were conducted to gather public feedback on the budget and a brand new online engagement platform, “A Balancing Act” was tried to give residences to create their own version of the budget and weigh in on the same questions as Council.
“It has been just over a year since Lac La Biche County’s new Council was sworn in, and I am proud of the strides that both the 2022 and 2023 budgets have made in getting us investment-ready,” says Mayor Paul Reutov. “From the big investments we are making in the Aquatics Centre, McArthur Park, and Main Street Lac La Biche, to our much larger ambition to create a development corridor throughout Lac La Biche and Plamondon, we are showing that our community is ready for investment. Our Economic Development Advisory Committee is actively seeking and engaging with industry to attract businesses and investment to our municipality. Council and I look forward to seeing our new direction for the community realized.”
The Council will set municipal tax rates in spring 2023, after property assessments are available.