City Budget in brief

The City of Red Deer will boost transit service to the neighbouring county this summer and is looking at the potential for routes to Lacombe, Sylvan Lake and Blackfalds.

County, communities seek more

transit links with city

The City of Red Deer will boost transit service to the neighbouring county this summer and is looking at the potential for routes to Lacombe, Sylvan Lake and Blackfalds.

Red Deer County has requested operating hours be extended during evenings Monday to Saturday and an additional trip added to Springbrook during the afternoon peak period.

The changes would add about 600 more hours to the service that began in September 2009 and has proven popular.

If approved by council, the new schedules would start in August.

The city provides the transit link through a cost-recovery contract with the county and the new hours will provide the city with additional revenue of $4,500.

Red Deer Transit manager Kevin Joll said other communities have also expressed interest in developing transit links with the city.

Those talks are in the early stages and any contract providing additional service to outlying communities would be designed so there was no cost to Red Deer taxpayers.

Lease extension will increase costs

Putting municipal staff to work in leased space is expected to cost more this year.

The lease for Alexander Way office space expires on July 14 and to extend the lease for one additional year will cost one-time funding of $14,451 in 2012 and $345,858 in 2013.

The existing budget includes rent for the entire 2012 year based on the previous agreement. However, extension of the lease will involve an increase in costs, Red Deer city council heard on Thursday.

Red Deer Transit seeks another Action Bus as demand for rides grows

Red Deer Transit wants another Action Bus to reduce the growing number of trip requests that couldn’t be met.

The 2012 city budget includes a request for $40,000 this year and $79,000 next year to cover the operating costs of another Action Bus, which would come into service by the fall. The addition will allow the city to add another 200 to 300 bus trips per month.

Transit manager Kevin Joll said the number of unmet trips peaked at 600 last May. A new bus was added in July, reducing the number of unmet trips by 200.

“We have a huge demand for service,” said Joll. “We’re not meeting the needs of the community and we’re trying to stay on top of that.”

Pressure on the Action Bus system will only increase in coming years because of an aging population, he told city council during a budget presentation on Friday.

The Action Bus is typically used by residents who can’t use conventional buses because of mobility issues. It is also used by an increasing number of kidney dialysis patients.

Each bus costs about $75,000, which comes out of the capital budget.

The city has 14 buses, including one that Red Deer County paid for so that the city could provide service into that municipality.

City to develop Social Master Plan

A Social Master Plan for the City of Red Deer will be developed this year.

Social Planning Department manager Scott Cameron said a Social Master Plan is really about “the well-being of citizens.”

It will be developed within the input of community agencies.

Councillor Lynne Mulder said during Friday’s operational budget talks that she could “hardly stay in her seat” because she was so excited about this plan.

She said the plan will clearly articulate what the City of Red Deer and social agencies should eacgbe doing to address social issues in the community.

It will include who should take the lead on certain projects, Mulder said.

For instance, should the city continue to be the one distributing affordable housing dollars on behalf of the province and the federal governments, she added.

“The plan will define what our role is,” said Mulder outside council chambers. “As (the city), we provide more direction and bringing people together. I think that’s what it should be. It will be good to make those things clear.”

Mulder said she anticipates the master plan will also identify where volunteers are needed.

“I think we kind of have a crisis with our social agencies in terms of the needs and how we’re meeting them,” she said. “And I think there’s a redundancy and overlap, so I think (this plan) will be really helpful.”

Funding sought

to build new library branch

City council will be asked to approve $25,000 in the 2012 budget to go towards planning a proposed branch library in the Timberlands subdivision.

The city and Red Deer Public Schools are joining forces on the project to build a library as part of an elementary school in the subdivision on the southeast side of Red Deer at 30th Avenue and 61st Street.

Similar in concept but about half the size of the northside Dawe branch library at St. Patrick Community School, the 4,300-square-foot branch would be open for September 2014.

Council has already agreed to provide a $450,000 grant in 2013 and fund $150,000 in annual operating costs beginning in 2014.

It is expected the project will pave the way for a larger branch on the southeast side of the city in the future.

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