City Manager Craig Curtis presents the 2019 Capital Budget to council Friday morning. The City of Red’s proposed $115.76 million budget focuses only on important updates to Red Deer’s infrastructure with new projects taking a backseat. Robin Grant/Red Deer Express

2019 budget focuses on necessary updates to infrastructure and environment

City’s ‘cautious’ budget a result of current slow economic growth in the province

The City of Red Deer’s proposed $115.76 million 2019 capital budget focuses on ensuring that previously approved projects go ahead as well as maintaining current amenities and infrastructure.

City Manager Craig Curtis described the 2019 budget as ‘cautious’ when presented Friday, with $774,000 less than last year, at a point in time when the province is recovering from recession.

During the session, Curtis said priorities in this budget are a result of a slow recovery from the province’s 2016 recession and Red Deer’s current environment of slow economic growth.

“We are being financially responsible and we have a plan that can be afforded,” he said. “We’re focusing on the protection and rehabilitation of what we have.”

Mayor Tara Veer agreed with Curtis, saying Red Deer is still responding to the economic recession in the province.

“I think it is fair to characterize it predominantly as a rehabilitation budget,” she told reporters after the session.

“There are two predominant challenges, we continue to lead in the wake of one of the most substantial economic recessions in provincial history. We continue to see the lag factor of that recession and certainly trying to accommodate the needs and requests of the community in a climate where there is substantial uncertainty around provincial grants. I would say that the predominant challenge is the uncertainty around federal and provincial grants, and what will come Red Deer’s way.”

Veer added it is difficult for the City to balance what Red Deerians want for their city against the ‘substantial infrastructure needs’.

The budget’s focus is to protect key infrastructure, ensure previously approved projects go ahead and protect against getting into debt.

Some major projects taking place include upgrades to Hwy. 11A with the Northland Drive Project and building a phosphorus recovery and biosolids facility at the Water Treatment Plant.

High priority infrastructure projects include the construction of the North Red Deer Community Centre, the expansion to the G.H. Dawe Community Centre and conducting maintenance and repairs to the Red Deer Regional Airport.

Council will consider the recommended projects in the 2019 budget on Nov. 19th.

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