City council tackles 2013 capital budget

  • Nov. 7, 2012 4:04 p.m.

Red Deer City council debated the 2013 capital budget totaling $105 million during a meeting yesterday. Council also reviewed the City’s 2013-2022 capital plan.

Councillors were expected to approve the budget yesterday evening, however they were still debating it at press time.

“The 2013-2022 capital plan invests in the future of Red Deer and provides Red Deerians with services and facilities that enhance our community today and for the future,” said City Manager Craig Curtis. “Celebrating Red Deer’s centennial this year, we are reminded that in fact we have completed a century of progress and we have really come a long way in growing and developing a vibrant community.”

Through a century and through the last few years, Red Deer has faced some tough challenges while retaining a good quality of life for Red Deerians, he added. Some of those recent challenges include lower revenue due to slower growth, lower revenue from investments, lower revenue from land sales, lower offsite levy contributions, and a significant reduction in provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funding in relation to the original commitment.

“The slower than anticipated economic recovery continues to impact the City’s finances,” said Elaine Vincent, director of corporate services. “We have made adjustments to the capital plan this year to accommodate this slower recovery and still provide quality services to residents.”

During budget discussions, council considered approval of both current and multi-year capital projects totaling $105 million. The capital plan for the next 10 years totals $1,339 million based on current projections.

The 10-year capital plan projections are intended as estimated placeholders and planning tools which show future need. A project’s inclusion in the 10-year capital plan does not mean that it is going ahead. It simply means that the City is considering it, planning for it and looking at financing options. The only projects approved by council are those planned for 2013, multi-year projects beginning in 2013, or projects in need of additional funding in 2013.

When reviewing the 2013 capital budget for approval, council also considered the expected project costs and the cost of deferral. Council also took into account the total 10-year capital plan rather than just the 2013 capital budget to help ensure capital financing is available in the future, and that the operating budget is not unreasonably impacted.

“The capital plan recommended to council is a balance between what we need to do and investing for the future Red Deer we all want to achieve,” said Curtis. “This balance allows us to keep on track to our vision and provide services that meet the needs of many in the community.”

– Fawcett