LaSalle council meets for its regular meeting on March 8, 2016. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

LaSalle Budget Freeze Set For Approval

Councillors in LaSalle are looking to approve a budget freeze Tuesday night.

Council asked administration to whittle down a proposed 0.46% tax rate increase to 0% since stronger home values will see property tax bills go up 3.85% on average.

LaSalle’s Manager of Finance Dale Langlois doesn’t see any pain for residents in cutting the needed $133,000 to reach zero.

“We don’t want to take money away from service levels that we already have,” says Langlois. “We don’t want to reduce service levels, we’re just looking at eliminating some of the proposed new service levels.”

Langlois says administration has combed through the budget to see where it can trim.

“If there [are] any increases we can defer and maybe increase over a multi-year period instead of right off the bat in one year,” says Langlois.

Last week, council approved a $17.3-million capital budget for 2017 — a $600,000 bump from 2016. Roughly 85% of the capital budget is earmarked for infrastructure.

Heavy rain in the fall, which sparked states of emergency to be called, has also led to a change in budgeting in LaSalle. There’s now a new drainage-specific reserve that’s been stuffed with $1-million to bring the total amount to $1.5-million.

“We’ve kind of rejigged our who long-term capital plan and reallocated funds,” says Langlois. “We have a specific contribution to a drainage and storm sewer reserve that we’re doing annually. We plan on increasing that in the future.”

Langlois says historically, the town had a capital account that could be used for a number of varying projects, but the town felt a specific reserve was needed in light of the flooding — and to prepare for similar rain events in the future.

The proposed 0.46% tax jump would have meant another $10.75 on the yearly property bill for a $250,000 home in LaSalle.

Council meets tonight at the LaSalle Civic Centre for 7pm.