Councillors approve 2023 operating and capital budget for Lethbridge County – Lethbridge
Lethbridge County Council has approved its 2023 operating and capital budget for next year with an average tax increase of 4.1 per cent following projected growth.
This will be the largest hike the county has seen in the past five years. County homeowner taxes increased 1.63 percent in 2021-2022.
Reeve Tory Campbell said the jump was the result of outside pressure.
“I was pleased to see that the staff were able to give us a budget that I think is realistic,” said Campbell. “We could work on the fact that we were dealing with inflation.
“We were able to handle that (but) continued to provide and maintain service levels and take on some new projects.”
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The county’s budget was also hit as the province made changes to policing costs and recreational funding. The changes resulted in an additional cost of nearly $300,000 this year and about $700,000 in 2023.
Lethbridge County Chief Administrative Officer Ann Mitchell said these are hurdles in budget considerations.
“A lot of these increases are out of our control, so I want to say that both the council and the administration are really looking all the time… ‘How can we minimize the impact on our taxpayers?'” Mitchell said.
The county identified more than $800,000 in cost savings to offset these new expenses.
For capital projects, the county wants to ensure that appropriate facilities are in place for future agri-food processing opportunities.
“We see a tremendous amount of opportunity in this corridor,” Campbell said. “So we’re making sure we’re trying to move forward proactively to have that infrastructure to support that future industry.”
Campbell said even if taxes rise, he expects growth to continue in the future of the county.
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