The City of Lacombe took steps at council to help residents through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lacombe Chief Administrative Office Matthew Goudy said the City is working to ensure all critical municipal functions remain intact in order for Lacombe to continue to have the services it relies on during an “unprecedented time”.
“Some of the key points include that Lacombe has not yet declared a state of local emergency,” he said. “We have activated our emergency operations centre and have a number of mitigation strategies in place to ensure residents won’t see an interruption to their service.
“There maybe some modifications to the way we deliver our services and the way we interact with our residents, but we have taken steps to ensure core services will not be interrupted.”
Goudy and his staff also presented four options to council in order to alleviate financial pressures on businesses and residents, three of which were accepted including:
- A three month deferral of utility payments without penalty for interested businesses and residents
- A three month deferral of the Tax Installment Payment System (TIPS) , with the deferral being made up over the remaining six months of 2020
- A six month tax payment extension for residents and businesses not on the TIPS plan, with the deadline now being Dec. 31, 2020
Council chose not to go ahead with waiving the fee for Lacombe Business Licences, which would have resulted in lost City revenue of $86,000.
Mayor Grant Creasey said the three motions should help lessen the immediate financial impact for businesses and residents during this ongoing crisis.
“I think the options for deferral will be seen as a positive move and have an immediate impact on the individuals that need it. In all honesty. A relatively large amount of the population will continue to pay their bills as normal but this does offer a financial lifeline from the City for those that need it,” he said.
He added their communication with the Province and the federal government has consistently been that everyone is in this together, but City administration does hope relief programs goes to the businesses and residents that require it.
“The municipality is fortunately is in a position where we do have cash reserves available and we do have the ability to manage our cash flow a little bit better than a lot of medium businesses and some personal household. We are most interested in seeing provincial and federal programs be rolled out to Lacombe residents and businesses,” Goudy said.
Creasey said he was pleased to see that Lacombe residents were taking public health protocols like social distancing and isolation seriously.
“I am very pleased to say that people have been very active with all of the health protocols that have been put forward, the important ones being hygiene and social or physical distancing. Lacombe has been proactive in that regard and these messages have been put out there to safeguard us all and it only works if we all act together,” he said.
Creasey and Goudy both said the City is taking the COVID-19 pandemic very seriously and have been involved with all stakeholders in the City of Lacombe, across the Province and nationally.
“We have activated our Emergency Coordination Centre and have been in contact with, for example, the Lacombe Police Service everyday to go through the situation in Lacombe,” Goudy said.
He added it is important to remember that COVID-19 will affect Lacombe.
“It won’t pass us by unscathed or unnoticed here in Lacombe and some of the measures like physical distancing and good hygiene could mean the difference between life and death for some resident in Lacombe,” he said.
“That is something that is important and we ask people to overprotect themselves and err on the side of caution during this time.”