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Amended Lethbridge 2021-2022 operating budget passed by city council

Lethbridge City Hall. Global News

After weeks of discussions, Lethbridge city council has officially passed an amended operating budget for the next two years.

City council met as the finance committee from Nov. 23 to 28 and reviewed the city’s operating budget through 2022.

Through a series of recommended cuts, the committee secured a zero per cent municipal property tax rate increase in the next two years, as well as a zero per cent increase to utility rates in 2021.

Read more: 0% tax increase in 2021 and 2022 as Lethbridge finance committee completes budget review

At Monday’s meeting only two amendments were proposed: Councillor Blaine Hyggen moved to eliminate a $1 million cut to the Lethbridge Police Service budget, and Councillor Jeff Carlson proposed changing the recommended 10 per cent cut to city council salaries to a five per cent cut. Both motions were voted down.

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Read more: ‘It’s significant’: Lethbridge police chief responds as LPS waits for city council decision on $1M cut

Councillor Rob Miyashiro, who chaired the finance committee’s review, said he was happy to see minimal amendments brought forward.

“That whole week we did — all those amendments, a hundred and something of them — and only two came back,” Miyashiro said. “I think that shows the great thought we put into discussion, and the great work that we did in the last week of November.

“That was my biggest fear; that there would be 15 things that we would have to talk about, and then we would have to go through that whole process again. But I think we did a good job three weeks ago, which wound up with the outcome we have today.”

Read more: City council salaries, municipal census among items seeing cuts on day 2 of Lethbridge budget review

The flat tax rate for 2021 and 2022 was achieved through cuts to multiple city departments, but Miyashiro doesn’t believe Lethbridge residents will feel the pain of service cuts.

“You shouldn’t see too much,” he said. “A lot of it was internal processes — a lot of things were changeovers in organizational structure.”

Hyggen and Councillor Joe Mauro were the only votes against the amended budget, which passed 7-2.

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