City to consider one of smallest capital budgets this month

Red Deer City council to consider $81.05 million budget

The City of Red Deer’s recommended 2018 Capital Budget was released today, and it’s one of the smallest capital budgets administration has submitted in a decade, officials said.

The recommended budget is $81.05 million, with the City focusing on the sustainability of infrastructure.

“This is down from approximately $28 million over and above that, so last year’s recommendation anticipation of 2018 was $110 million. As we adjust to the economic reality that’s the recommended budget,” said Mayor Tara Veer.

City council will also consider the 2019 to 2027 Capital Plan valued at $1.33 billion when they take a look at both on Nov. 29th and possibly Nov. 30th.

Veer said when looking back at trending from the last recession the City navigated through, usually the municipality has about a two year lag factor between what’s occurring in the economy.

“From what I’ve seen of the early numbers this certainly holds true to that, that we’re now experiencing that two year lag factor. Even though we’re starting to see some recovery in the community, the local government is by necessity two years behind that.”

City Manager Craig Curtis said in recognizing the reduced levels of growth in Red Deer, and with a continued reduced rate predicted for the next several years, administration decided to bring forward the smaller budget.

“We recognized the challenges, took a proactive approach, and developed a budget to reflect that,” he said.

In 2016 and 2017, Red Deer saw a slowing in overall growth, and the economy’s continued uncertainty plays into the planning for infrastructure. The projects being proposed will work to ensure foundational infrastructure is sustained, previously approved projects are accounted for and reserves are maintained in a positive balance.

With Red Deer being the next largest urban municipality to the major metro areas of Calgary and Edmonton, and being the host of the 2019 Canada Winter Games, it is imperative to focus on sustainability planning for growth and infrastructure and building the City’s future through council’s vision, officials said.

“Our focus is, and always will be providing quality services and facilities for Red Deerians. This capital budget will allow us to focus on items previously approved, and maintain the great amenities, community and infrastructure we have in place. As our economic conditions improve, we will revisit projects and plan to build for growth,” said Curtis.

The City’s largest capital projects for 2018 are water utility infrastructure, wastewater treatment plant rehabilitation, replacement and upgrades, pavement rehabilitation (crown paving) and roadway reconstruction. Other projects that were previously approved or are being recommended in the 2018 Capital Budget include the 2019 Canada Winter Games projects, Heritage Ranch enhancements, Bower Ponds Pavilion enhancements and Alto Reste Cemetery site development.

On Nov. 29th, council will consider the recommended projects in the 2018 Capital Budget, multi-year projects with start dates in 2018. Council will also consider the 2019 to 2027 Capital Plan, giving administration the ability to plan future projects while providing the flexibility to adjust projects based on community needs and funding sources.

“We are always balancing the City’s need for enabling growth, building community amenities and maintaining infrastructure,” said Dean Krejci, chief financial officer. “This budget and plan maintain the longer term sustainability of our funding sources with the current economic environment and growth rate of our City.”

Curtis said it’s key that people understand the difference between the budget and the plan.

“The plan numbers are really just placeholders in the future, but we work out the funding source so we see what’s possible for council to aspire to develop over the coming nine years,” he said.

He added they have a lot of projects that have been pre-approved, which they will see developed and open in 2018.

“This particular capital plan for 2018 is fundamentally primarily rehabilitation and maintenance projects of the core services and utilities with some fairly minor amenity development,” said Curtis.

As part of the 2018 capital budget process, citizens have the opportunity to review the budget and provide feedback to council before they consider it. Feedback can be provided by email to legislativeservices@reddeer.ca or in writing at City Hall, Collicutt Centre, Recreation Centre, Red Deer Public Library Downtown Branch, Timberlands Branch and G.H. Dawe Branch. Copies of the budget are also available at those locations for citizens to review. The deadline to submit feedback is 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 24th.

Budget details can also be found online at www.reddeer.ca/budget.

Capital budget review begins at 9 a.m. on Nov. 29th and may continue on Nov. 30th in Council Chambers.

carlie.connolly@reddeerexpress.com

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