April 12th, 2024

SPC to get economic update from treasurer

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on November 11, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The Economic Standing Policy Committee of Lethbridge city council on Tuesday will hear an economic update from City treasurer Darrel Mathews.

The SPC meeting begins at 9 a.m. in council chambers.

The SPC consists of all members of council and the meeting is one of two on Tuesday. Council will hold its regular meeting at 1:30 p.m.

Mathews is one of several people making presentations Tuesday morning. Others include Robin James, CEO of Lethbridge Housing, Andrew Malcolm and Matthew Pitcher of Community Social Development, Director of Infrastructure Joel Sanchez, Manager of Corporate Initiatives Graeme Woods and Christina Seidel, who is executive director of the Recycling Council of Alberta.

Mathews will make four presentations including a joint one with Dawna Coslovi who is chair of the Lethbridge Police Commission.

Mathews economic update will look at various topics including current economic conditions, taxation and utility pressures, operating and capital pressures and the impact on reserves.

The City, says a summary of his presentation, is facing several pressures including high inflation and rising interest rates. Mathews will highlight the pressures that exist in the City’s operating and capital budget with the presentation giving the SPC “options and tools to assist with future financial decisions to continue meeting the needs of the growing community.”

Among the taxation pressures include council’s increased funding for the city police department which will add 22 officers and other programs and services to support them. Lethbridge Fire and EMS is also getting new staff, a total of 13.

Other taxation pressures include funding to support maintenance and growth of city parks and green spaces and initiatives to support crime prevention and those who are homeless.

These initiatives include a matching grant program to assist businesses, and owners of commercial and multi-family properties pay for improvements to deal with crime.

Funding was also increased to city outreach programs.

The presentation says there is a need to advance projects that significantly increase the capacity of water and wastewater utilities to address anticipated future demands.

The cost of the first phase of water utility projects is $123 million which will require borrowing $92,442,000. The cost of the first phase projects for the wastewater utility are $88 million which will require $71,403,000 to be borrowed.

The presentation says major land developers weren’t planning new subdivision developments this year with the cost of inflation and effect of interest rates on customers being the primary reason.

The land developer outlook for 2024 is expected to be the same for 2023. There are 644 vacant lots here, which amounts to a four-year supply at current absorption rates.

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