The NDP recently announced MSI funding for Red Deer. Although the funding announced is not new monies, City officials said they are happy the previously promised funding is still coming through.
“The City is pleased with the province’s continued commitment to MSI funding. Municipalities are responsible for over 60 per cent of infrastructure in the country, so cities and communities need the funding from MSI to continue growing our economy and to continue serving our citizens,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “The funds that are allocated in the announcement through MSI on the capital front as well as on the operating front are consistent with the allocation that we were given from the previous government. Now that we have an interim budget that the provincial government is able to put into action – it’s a follow through on those commitments.”
MSI funding is allocated annually and paid to municipalities following legislative approval of the provincial budget. It is allocated based on a municipality’s population, education property tax requisitions and kilometres of local roads.
In 2014, the City of Red Deer received $24.1 million through MSI funding.
The City was expecting to receive $16 million from the province in MSI funding this year as part of the former provincial government’s budget. In March, the PCs also announced Red Deer would see a ‘bonus payment’ in MSI funding of about $8.4 million.
“Then an election was called and the budget was never passed,” said Dean Krejci, chief financial officer for the City. “Once the NDP government formed, they had to do a interim supply bill in order to actually make payments because they haven’t got a budget. As part of that interim supply bill, they are telling us now that they are going to give us that $16 million of MSI funding. It’s not new additional money but they can act on it now that they have their interim supply bill.”
Krecji added the City needs to get approval from the province in terms of what the 2015 MSI funding can be used for. The City has sent in a number of projects for approval and they are currently under review.
These projects include the relocation of Station 3 for emergency services (project cost is $8.2 million and the MSI funding the City is asking for is $8 million); Station 4 relocation (project cost is $7.2 million and the MSI funding the City is asking for is $7 million); 2015 pavement rehabilitation (project cost is $8.3 million and the City is asking for that same amount in MSI funding); roadway reconstruction (project cost is $6.6 million and the City is asking for that same amount in MSI funding); the 30th Ave. water main construction (project cost is $1.2 million and the City is asking for that same amount in MSI funding); street light conversion to LED (project cost is $5 million and the City is asking for that same amount in MSI funding).
“It usually takes them (the province) anywhere from three to six months from the time we create them to the time we send them in and they are approved,” said Krecji, adding the City should hear about the approvals anywhere between August and October.
Since the program was first introduced, the City of Red Deer has used MSI funding to realize a number of projects that contribute to the enhancement of quality of life for residents. Examples of projects include the River Bend Water Intake System, pavement rehabilitation and roadway construction projects, such as the Taylor Drive Improvements Project and the 67th St. and 30th Ave. Expansion Project.
Meanwhile, the government plans to review MSI funding. The current formula in which the funding is determined was done in consultation with municipalities over a two-year period.
“On the whole it is a fairly fair formula and the City of Red Deer has been a strong beneficiary of this grant program,” said Veer. “While there is always room for improvements, we need to make sure Red Deer’s interests are protected.”