A capital budget of $173 million was approved last week with City council considering current and multi-year capital projects.
Council approved $15 million for the relocation of two fire stations, Station 3 and Station 4, which is needed in order to meet provincially legislated response requirements as Red Deer grows.
Also approved was $15.2 million towards roadway construction and crown paving as well as $156,000 towards a facility assessment of the Michener Centre and $21.6 million towards the replacement of the Red Deer arena. The replacement of the Red Deer arena was needed as it is aging and immediate repairs are necessary to ensure public safety, City officials said.
“This budget considers community feedback and represents City council’s dedication to citizen-focused service, strategically-oriented leadership and ensuring we continue to build an accessible and welcoming community,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “City council used this opportunity to initiate a capital savings plan and exercise financial leadership all while balancing opportunities for growth and amenities as we position our city for the future.”
With the approval of the ] capital budget, the City’s debt limit sits at 43%, which is below the 90% provincially legislated debt limit.
“This budget acknowledges the pressures of growth with the needed amenities for our City. We worked hard to put together a capital plan that balances the needs that Red Deerians have identified while maintaining the vision and direction that council has established,” said City Manager Craig Curtis.
In addition, council also looked at placeholders for the next 10 years in the capital plan, but only approved the items scheduled for 2015 in the capital budget.
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 considering financing options. The only projects approved by council are those planned for 2015, multi-year projects beginning in 2015, or projects in need of additional funding in 2015. This budget acknowledges previously approved Canada Winter Games bid requirements.
In addition to a 2015 budget, administration presented the 10-year capital plan, which outlines the possibilities for future community investments in infrastructure and amenities. This plan will be further discussed by council at a workshop in early 2015.
“As we move into 2015, council will have the opportunity to spend more time looking at projects that are a part of the 10-year capital plan, and changes could be made,” said Curtis. “However, the 10-year capital plan is only a planning tool and has flexibility based on council and the community.”
Council will consider the operating portion of the budget starting on Jan. 6th.