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Council backs $107.5M capital budget

Red Deer city council hammered out a $107.5-million capital budget that addresses core infrastructure demands while making provisions for community projects in 2013 after nearly nine hours of debate on Tuesday.

The 88 or so budgetary items range from a $16,000 downtown off-leash dog park to $4.2 million in pothole reconstruction.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said the budget struck a good balance dealing with core infrastructure, centennial expenditures and small community projects.

“Sitting in this chair I have never felt so much unity in the presentation of the budget from our staff and the response to the questions and the way the council looked at it,” said Flewwelling. “I felt there was a wonderful collaboration between staff and council. I never felt that in other budgets. There was always some grinding off to the side.”

Coun. Chris Stephan said he did not agree with all budgetary items but he felt council showed the most restraint that it has in any budget that he has been part of in five years.

Council adopted the budget unanimously.

One of the key changes in the staff-recommended budget was consolidating the funding for the multi-year frostboil (large potholes) reconstruction project.

City staff had recommended spending $2.1 million in 2013 and another $2.2 million in 2014.

Stephan said it would make more sense to get the job done in one year and be ahead of the game. City staff said there are currently about 36 frostboils in the city.

“Taking care of it early will save us a ton of money down the road,” said Stephan. “It’s just a smart investment.”

Flewwelling, Coun. Paul Harris, Coun. Dianne Wyntjes and Coun. Cindy Jefferies did not support the reallocation.

Jefferies said she supports a good road but was concerned with the rush to make the decision. She wanted to delay discussion to hear more “asks” in the budget.

“I needed to hear a little more about what we might be saying no to in saying yes to a $4.2 million increase in that budget line,” said Jefferies. “I wanted to make sure there weren’t more pressing needs before us.”

The multi-year Taylor Drive and Alexander Way intersection project received $5.78 million that will ultimately create a direct link between the downtown, Riverlands and the Red Deer River.

Coun. Frank Wong, Stephan and Coun. Buck Buchanon did not support the request. Although the three councillors said it’s important to have a connection, they said the current designs would cause traffic backlog and there needs to be more work.

Harris said he was pleased with the changes to Riverlands and Taylor Drive in the capital budget because it opens up the land to re-development and cultural vision that has been in the works for about 15 years.

Red Deer College received $1.4 million for capital initiatives. Stephan said he did not support the request because of the increasing frequency of community requests that are being passed down to the city because of provincial cuts.

Veer said she supported the request but she would like to see a list of how provincial decisions that have affected the municipality over the years.

Wyntjes said the provincial government supports these type of partnerships and an investment in RDC is an investment in the future.

The 2013 capital budget was funded through reserves, grants, customer contributions and debt.

In January, city council will turn to its operating budget.

Budget Highlights:

• $9.49 million for school site and recreational land acquisition, north of Timberlands. The final amount will be negotiated with the two school boards.

• $8.82 million for the Northland Drive sanitary trunk (reimbursed by the South Red Deer Regional Wastewater Services Commission and the province)

• $7.56 million for crown paving and another $260,000 focusing on potholes

• $2.19 million to expand the city vehicle fleet and another $4.27 million to replace existing vehicles. This will include the purchase of an electrical car to be funded through the Green Trip Program and the Federal Gas Tax Refund

• $168,000 on controlled intersections that will change immediately to green so that drivers don’t wait at a red light when no one else is around. A signal will be installed at 22 Street and Adamson Avenue in 2013. The city will also continue to budget for two signals per year

• $52,000 for a Pedestrian Countdown Signal pilot project at Ross Street and 49th Avenue

• $300,000 for the advanced design and preliminary construction of the Riverwalk linking Riverlands to Bower Ponds

• $5.56 million for the transmission stations in Red Deer’s northeast and northwest

• $5.45 million for widening of 19th Street, east of 30th Avenue to 20th Avenue providing access to the Vanier East subdivision that is currently under instruction

• $100,000 for the replacement of soccer turf (west) at the Collicutt Centre

• $16,000 for the planning and design stages of an off leash dog park in downtown Red Deer. Another $33,000 is earmarked for construction phase in 2014

• $200,000 for phase two of the 2019 Canada Games bid

• $81,000 Sunnybrook Farm Infrastructure Repairs

• Integrated Transportation Movement Study funding changed to a multi-year pilot with $235,000 allocated in 2013 and $235,000 proposed in 2014.

crhyno@reddeeradvocate.com

 
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