June 16th, 2024

Operating Budget 2023-2026 Deliberations Day 3 recap


By Lethbridge Herald on November 16, 2022.

CITY OF LETHBRDGE

On Wednesday, November 16, Lethbridge City Council continued deliberations as Economic Standing Policy Committee for its 2023-2026 Operating Budget.

The recommendations from deliberations will be forwarded to City Council for potential approval at the regular meeting on November 29. In accordance with Municipal Government Act requirements, City Council must approve an operating budget by December 31 so the City can pass a property tax bylaw. The draft budget can be viewed here. The Amended Initiative Sheets for 2023-2026 Operating Budget can be viewed here.

 

Wednesday’s deliberations included the following items:

  • N-11: Airfield Maintenance Specialist (AMS)

Proposed funding source is taxation for $156,400 in 2023, $161,700 in 2024, $167,200 in 2025 and $172,800 in 2026. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would add two FTEs to ensure compliance with revised Transport Canada regulations, which require Lethbridge Airport to ensure it is staffed by AMS 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

  • N-12: Event Support Program

In a 6-3 defeated vote, a revised and divided motion looked to add, through taxation, $82,500 per year for each of the four years in the budget cycle to create a mid-sized event grant. In a 6-3 vote in favour, a revised and divided motion asked Administration to explore divesting themselves of administering event support programs by using external organizations.

 

  • N-13: Business Improvement Area Support Grant

In a unanimous vote, this item was defeated. This budget initiative looked to establish a matching grant based on 50 per cent the amount of a Business Improvement Area (BIA) district’s total levy to support its efforts to create and maintain economically prosperous commercial districts.

 

  • N-14: Economic and Development Based Incentives Fund

In an 8-1 vote, this item was defeated. This budget initiative looked to create a fund to provide financial incentives to support a continuation of existing urban core revitalization and strategic initiatives program to address priorities identified by Council and/or community.

 

  • N-15: Parkland Growth & Capacity Impacts

Proposed funding source is taxation for $613,200 in 2023, $629,300 in 2024, $647,300 in 2025 and $669,100 in 2026. Funding for 2025 and 2026 will be contingent upon a review and report back to Council through the Civic Works SPC after 2023 and 2024. From an 8-1 vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would add 10 non-permanent FTEs to meet existing service levels.

 

  • N-16: Median Spraying

In a 7-2 vote, this item was defeated. This budget initiative looked to add one non-permanent FTE to spray chemical on concrete medians and median shrub beds as a planned maintenance activity three times per year.

 

  • N-17: Perpetual Care Fund for Cemeteries

In a 6-2 vote, this item was defeated. This budget initiative looked to set up a perpetual care fund where tax support and a portion of plot sales will eventually generate enough interest income to maintain City Cemeteries in perpetuity.

 

  • N-18: Traffic Signal and Lighting Technician

Proposed funding source is taxation for $150,000 in 2024 and $125,000 in each 2025 and 2026. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would add one FTE to support the growth of our traffic signal, rail and lighting system.

 

  • N-19: Traffic Safety Engineer/Coordinator

Proposed funding source is taxation for $150,000 in each year of the four-year budget cycle. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would add one FTE as a dedicated resource for Traffic Safety.

 

  • N-20: Provision of Commercial Recycling for Urban Core Businesses

Proposed funding source is from within existing operations in Waste & Recycling Utility. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would introduce the delivery of commercial recycling to businesses within the urban core.

 

  • N-21: Energy Conservation Engineer

Proposed funding source is utility charges for $61,200 in 2023, $122,700 in 2024, $125,800 in 2025 and $129,600 in 2026. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would add a full-time FTE that is a subject matter expert in energy, generation and/or demand management.

 

  • N-22: In-House Roll-Off Truck Service

Proposed funding source is accumulated surplus for $350,000 in 2023. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would transition from a third-party provider to in house for the roll-off truck service for recycling stations and yard waste sites, with the option of extended services for city facilities and construction projects.

 

  • N-23: Load Inspection Technician

Proposed funding source is from within existing operations. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would transition a term position to a permanent full-time position that supports the inspection of loads at the Waste and Recycling Centre (WRC).

 

  • N-24: In-House Water Utility Meter Reading

Proposed funding source is from within existing operations. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would complete the transition of the water meter reading service from a third-party contract to an in-house service with the creation of three permanent positions to deliver meter reading and other related meter shop duties.

 

  • N-25: Addressing Increased Access-A-Ride Demand & C-7.2: Lethbridge Transit Fare Decrease (tabled from Monday)

Councillor Jeff Carlson proposed a motion, which was carried unanimously, for initiatives N-25 (which would budget corporately for an anticipated increase in demand for Access-A-Ride services) and C-7.2 (which would eliminate transit fares for seniors over 65 and older and youth 18 and under) to be postponed until 2024 to allow time for the City Manager to conduct a thorough review of the Lethbridge Transit System.

 

  • N-26: Fire & EMS Resourcing

Proposed funding source is through a grant, dependent upon the contract negotiations with Alberta Health Services, for $261,237 in 2023, $1,204,574 in 2024, $2,082,865 in 2025 and $2,424,011 in 2026. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would add 13 additional fire personnel to Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services.

 

  • N-27: Natural Leaders Project (NLP) – Helen Schuler Nature Centre

Proposed funding source is operations for $100,000 in 2023, $101,000 in 2024, $102,000 in 2025 and $103,000 in 2026. From a 7-2 vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would transition a full-time, grant-funded position to permanent FTE due to discontinuation of external grant funding.

 

  • N-28: Mitigate the Feral Cat Problem

Proposed funding source is taxation for $10,000 in each year of the four-year budget cycle. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would provide one-time funding to support the Animal Welfare Committee’s efforts to mitigate the feral cat problem.

 

  • N-29: Non-Veterinary Funding for Animal Rescue

Proposed funding source is taxation for $10,000 in each year of the four-year budget cycle. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would provide one-time funding for animal rescue groups by way of the Animal Welfare Committee.

 

  • N-30: Galt Museum & Archives Communications Assistant (Four-Year Pilot Project)

From a 5-4 vote, this item was defeated. This budget initiative looked to create a 0.56 FTE Communications Assistant position for a four-year pilot project.

 

  • N-31: Galt Museum & Archives Indigenous Programming (Four-Year Pilot Project)

Proposed funding source is a MRSR one-time allocation of $15,300 in 2025 and $15,500 in 2026. Funding for 2025 and 2026 will be contingent upon a review and report back on the program in 2024 to Council through the Cultural and Social SPC. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would support the work of the Indigenous Curator.

 

  • N-32: Galt Museum & Archives Indigenous Curator (Four-Year Pilot Project)

Proposed funding source is a MRSR one-time allocation of $59,500 in 2025 and $59,700 in 2026. Funding for 2025 and 2026 will be contingent upon a review and report back on the program in 2024 to Council through the Cultural and Social SPC. From a unanimous vote, this recommendation will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If the project is approved, this would create a 0.6 FTE Indigenous Curator position for a four-year pilot project.

 

  • N-33: Lethbridge Police Commission and Service (Community Safety, Frontline Support, Org Wellbeing)

This item was postponed to 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

 

  • N-34: Chinook Arch Member Library Board & Municipal Membership Fees

This item was tabled to Thursday, following item N-33.

 

  • N-35: Lethbridge Public Library Community Safety and Recovery

Through a 4-4 vote (Mayor Hyggen was away), this item was defeated. This budget initiative looked to create a Library Crisis Intervention Worker position.

 

  • N-36: Lethbridge Public Library Business, Continuing Education and Employment Outreach

From a 7-2 vote, this item was defeated. This budget initiative looked to create a Library Outreach position.

 

  • Omnibus motion, approved unanimouslyThese recommendations will move forward and be added to the draft budget for potential approval. If these projects are approved, they would address insurance, audit and inflation pressure points, as well as raise salaries to competitive wages and benefits.

o   N-37: Allied Arts Council Casa – Fee for Service

Proposed funding source is taxation for $153,338 in 2023, $175,210 in 2024, $196,750 in 2025 and $211,764 in 2026.

o   N-38: Allied Arts Council Leadership – Fee for Service

Proposed funding source is taxation for $227,949 in 2023, $241,901 in 2024, $259,286 in 2025 and $276,669 in 2026.

The 2023-2026 Operating Budget Deliberations will resume at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 17. The meeting will recess by 4:30 p.m. each day and reconvene at 9:30 a.m. the following day. The agendas can be found here. These deliberations are open to the public, will be livestreamed on the City’s YouTube page and broadcast on Shaw TV Lethbridge. Residents can also follow live updates on Twitter through the City Clerk’s account at @LethCityClerk and read a daily recap posted to the City’s website throughout the deliberations.

See the Day 2 recap here and the Day 1 recap here.

Thursday’s deliberations will begin with item N-33: Lethbridge Police Commission and Service (Community Safety, Frontline Support, Org Wellbeing), followed by item N-34: Chinook Arch Member Library Board & Municipal Membership Fees, followed by the remaining N items, which are new initiative proposals from City Administration.

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