May 25th, 2024

Council shuts down taxpayer-subsidized developer notices

By Tim Kalinowski on January 29, 2021.


City council voted to close a loophole where taxpayers of the City of Lethbridge were paying $400 per ad to subsidize development notices which appeared in the newspaper.
Developers who wish to bring on new developments are required by the Municipal Government Act to have the notices appear on two successive weeks in print media prior to a public hearing.
This is supposed to be at their own cost and recouped as fees by the City development department when they make their applications.
During recent debates and public hearings to reduce the amount of information the City will provide in such notices in local print media, city staff revealed they had been subsidizing the costs of these ads for up to $400 per ad.
The City spent approximately $68,000 on such ads on behalf of developers in 2020 with taxpayers paying out of pocket for some of that amount when the cost should have been revenue neutral for the City of Lethbridge.
Despite questions put to staff by Coun. Jeffrey Coffman and Herald publisher Brian Hancock at the Jan. 12 public hearing on the print media advertising bylaw, City manager of planning and development Maureen Gehring did not answer publicly how this ever became a policy of her department and who made the decision to start subsidizing the costs of the ads, and why city council was never informed of this use of taxpayer money to supplement the applications of private developers.
Despite receiving no public answers to this question, Coffman, during Tuesday’s meeting, moved to shut the door on this type of subsidization in the future by introducing an amendment to the City’s Fees and Charges bylaw which would legislate staff in the City’s development department to achieve full cost recovery on all print media advertising costs going forward.
The motion passed 7-1 with Coun. Joe Mauro absent for the vote.
Staff were given until the April 6 council meeting to engage with stakeholders and review the overall fee structure before bringing a report back to council on how they plan to implement it.

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If you’re going to shut down print notices, I have an idea, include it with city invoices every month. Oh, is that going to slow down permit applications? Tough luck! Or get a better way to inform residents what’s going on. I have dealt with the city on these issues on a residential development put up beside me. I won’t say the city lies, but a lack of consultation, information what’s going on is their standard operating procedure. All I have to say is 24 waivers and no one was consulted on this.

Last edited 3 years ago by gs172