MOVING AHEAD - Mayor Morris Flewwelling discusses the challenges facing Red Deer in 2011

MOVING AHEAD - Mayor Morris Flewwelling discusses the challenges facing Red Deer in 2011

Considering challenges of the New Year

Morris Flewwelling describes fiscal constraints and shifting perspective on City plans

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said 2010 was a year of slow down for the City and said citizens can expect to see the same in the New Year.

“This past year was a response to the abrupt drop in 2008,” said Flewwelling. “When we went into our budget in 2009, we couldn’t really make any changes to the budget – so 2009 was a really aggressive budget. In 2010 we got a hold of things.”

He added some of the challenges in 2010 included a drop in revenue, a number of expenses and some of the City’s new buildings coming into the equation.

“What wanted to continue with the vision of the community that we had set but we knew we couldn’t keep on going at the pace,” said Flewwelling. “We wanted to keep our eye on the star but stretch the plan.”

He added 2010 marked a slower pace in terms of growth for the City.

“We had to tighten the belts and do all of the things you would do if you were to lose your job,” said Flewwelling. “We had projects that were in the mill that had to be completed. We reduced the initiatives to a minimum and we tried not to lose our way.”

He added the City and community is committed to seeing the rollout of the Greater Downtown Action Plan.

“Yes, there is lots to do, but we’ve stretched out that plan,” said Flewwelling. “But the interesting thing is that the private sector was not giving up on the downtown.

“We had Executive Place which was partially built and they went ahead and finished it. We also had the rebuilding of the Valley Hotel, Julietta’s Place and the Elements near the pedestrian bridge and the new office building north of the downtown Safeway.”

Because of the economic challenges, he added there are citizens in the City who are disappointed that projects have been pushed out of the 10-year capital plan.

“The 50 metre pool and the concert hall as well as the museum development have been slated for beyond the 10-year plan, in order to make certain that we’re able to include the upgrades to the water treatment plant and the wastewater treatment plant and some of the other capital projects like the north highway connector,” said Flewwelling.

“To keep up with these projects we can’t borrow more money and still keep ourselves in a prudent fiscal situation.”

Looking ahead to 2011, Flewwelling said the City will continue to stay on course with the ‘tightening up’ of the purse strings.

“We will keep on the slow road,” he said.

Flewwelling said one thing to look forward to in 2011 are the new faces on City council.

“We added two new people in 2007 and moving forward we lost one of those but added three new people this time around,” he said. “Each council is different from the past but this time around we have a really different balance.

“After the last election we reduced council by one woman and we’ve dropped the average age by a decade.”

He added there is also a good mix on council.

“We have Paul (Harris) who is a downtown businessman and very active in the community. We have Dianne (Wyntjes) who’s worked in the labour field and is totally comfortable with boards and policy and government and we have Chris (Stephan) who is a young lawyer and has some interesting ideas about law and he loves the budgeting,” said Flewwelling.

“You have three sets of fresh eyes and then of course the solid experience of all the other councillors.”

Next month council will tackle the 2011 operating budget.

“We will try to continue to do what’s important to be done and we’re questioning everything,” said Flewwelling.

The 2011 budget begins the first week of January and will run for about three weeks before being debated and approved by council.