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Friday , 28 January 2022

Lac La Biche Council approves 2022 budget, Council will not receive additional pay

The budget in Lac La Biche sets out plans to borrow for new Aquatics Centre and Main Street Revitalization Projects.

After several weeks of deliberations, Lac La Biche County Council approved the 2022 municipal budget at the December 21, Special Council Meeting. Council held seven special meetings dedicated to discussing the budget.

Operating expenditures for 2022 are set at $61,365,867, and new capital spending is $32,297,806, which is higher than last year. This approved budget is based on a 0 per cent total tax revenue increase (subject to changes in property assessment).

Major capital projects in 2022 total $32,297,806 and include:
• $27 million for the Aquatics Centre adjacent to the Bold Center (funded in part with grant funding and a possible debenture)
• $16.4 million for a multi-year investment in the Main Street Utility Replacement and Revitalization in the hamlet of Lac La Biche (Phases 2 and 3, funded with a possible debenture)
• $4.3 million for the Young’s Beach Paving Project
• $1.8 million for Bridge File 72382 (Range Road 132 south of Highway 55, 30 km south of the hamlet of Lac La Biche)
• $1.6 million for the Bold Center Sports Field Change Room Facility (partially allocated from reserves, and funding set aside in 2021)
• $200,000 in 2022 for a multi-year back lane paving program (year 2 of a 5-year program)

This year, $6.7 million will be set aside in reserves. By the end of 2022, the County will have $31.3 million in accumulated reserves, which will allow the municipality to replace and build new infrastructure as needed.

Additionally, Council considered two bylaws that will allow the County to borrow funds for the Aquatics Centre and Main Street Revitalization Projects. The Main Street Revitalization Project debenture bylaw received third and final reading, and a revised design will come back for Council approval early in the new year. The Aquatics Centre debenture bylaw received first reading. Under the Municipal Government Act, before receiving third and final reading, the Aquatics Centre debenture bylaw requires advertising for two consecutive weeks to allow the public sufficient time to petition against the borrowing if they wish.

Additionally, Council approved a two-year plan to phase in salary changes for County staff. The new policy will set pay grids to be competitive with similar municipalities, and staff will receive a 1 per cent cost of living allowance increase as of July 10, 2022.

To clarify, Council will not receive additional pay. The Mayor’s salary has been adjusted to reflect actual pay from the previous three years.

The Mayor will now receive $110,143 base pay (plus applicable benefits). From this point forward, the Mayor will only receive this compensation regardless of how many meetings or community events they attend.

“This budget sets a new direction for Lac La Biche County,” said Mayor Paul Reutov. “The projects we have planned in 2022 will attract new residents and tourists, encourage new business ventures, and diversify our economy. We are working to modernize and grow our community: with this budget, along with other possible investments like a marina, Lac La Biche County has a bright future ahead.”

A full summary of the budget will be posted on the County’s website in the coming weeks. Council will set municipal tax rates in the spring of 2022, after assessments are determined.

About Arthur C. Green

Arthur C. Green is an award winning journalist and is from Whitbourne Newfoundland. Green graduated from the CNA Journalism Program. Arthur also studied Business Marketing and Political Science at Memorial University in Essex England and St. John's Newfoundland. Green has worked for such organizations as CBC, CBC Radio, NTV, Saltwire, Great West Media, CKLB Radio, River Radio, Vista Radio, and Postmedia. He also loves Jiggs Dinner and can fillet a Codfish.