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City of Lethbridge begins 2023-2026 operating budget deliberations

Click to play video: 'City of Lethbridge begins 2023-2026 operating budget deliberations'
City of Lethbridge begins 2023-2026 operating budget deliberations
Lethbridge city council and administration have a busy week ahead. The city’s economic standing policy committee is diving into budget deliberations as it works to put together recommendations on how tax dollars should be spent over the next three years. Erik Bay has more. – Nov 14, 2022

The city’s economic standing policy committee (SPC) recommended several amendments to the 2023-2026 operating budget Monday — the first day of what’s expected to be a week of deliberations.

The amendments are in addition to the base draft budget, which already included property tax increases of 3.77 per cent every year over the next four years.

According to city councillors, that increase is to maintain current service levels, while any further increases are intended to return to pre-COVID-19 service after there were no tax increases the past three years.

On Monday, the SPC voted down additional funding for the affordable and social housing capital grant.

Click to play video: 'Property taxes to increase in Lethbridge after 3-year standstill: city'
Property taxes to increase in Lethbridge after 3-year standstill: city

The funding was meant to offset pre-development costs for local affordable housing programs and if approved, would have added 0.06 per cent annually to property taxes.

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The amendment was defeated in a 7-2 vote, with councillors Belinda Crowson and Jeff Carlson in favour.

Crowson said the funding would remove municipal barriers to future developments, but councillor Rajko Dodic called it a provincial responsibility.

The SPC approved a recommendation to join the Hwy 3 Twinning Development Association, which would cost taxpayers $10,000 a year.

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A recommendation also passed that would see parking fines double — from $25 to $50 — maintaining the $15 reduction if the fine is paid within seven days of the offense.

Other recommendations were also approved involving funding from the Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve, which would not impact future taxes.

That includes almost $1.2 million split over three years to update the city’s land-use bylaw.

City administration calls the cost a conservative estimate, but adds an update is due.

Budget discussions will resume Tuesday morning and could include plans for a Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee budget and helping business owners with costs associated with crime prevention improvements.

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