Red Deer moving ahead with projects despite budget squeeze

Continued fiscal restraints will see the City of Red Deer embark on fewer but still significant projects in 2012, the city manager said on Wednesday.

Continued fiscal restraints will see the City of Red Deer embark on fewer but still significant projects in 2012, the city manager said on Wednesday.

Craig Curtis presented a preview of the draft $93-million capital budget, along with a 10-year capital plan, that will go forward to city council for debate on Thursday, starting at 10:30 a.m.

The proposed projects include Red Deer’s first spray park.

Curtis told news media at City Hall that the global recession continues to dog municipal finances, both directly and indirectly. As in the previous two years, the city is experiencing lower revenues due to slower growth in new development, lower revenues from investments and land sales, and construction reserves have lost value.

And fewer provincial and federal dollars are trickling down to municipalities.

The draft 2012 capital budget has few frills, only moving up slightly from the budget that council approved in December 2010, which came in at $86,271,000.

Families will be glad to hear that the budget includes spending $1,161,000 on a spray park.

Curtis said this is a project that came to the forefront at City Hall more than a year ago.

“We have communities surrounding us with excellent spray parks, but we only have one palm (a water feature) which has a few arches over it,” said Curtis.

As well, the city proposes to invest $5 million into expansion and renovation of the Red Deer Curling Rink — on top of the $1.175 million previously approved.

One major road project in 2012 will involve realigning Taylor Drive and Ross Street for $551,000. The more major contributions will follow — $6,615,000 in 2013 and $7,033,000 in 2014.

Council will also take into account on Thursday the 10-year capital plan to help ensure capital financing is available, and that the operating budget is not unreasonably impacted. The only projects council will approve are those planned for 2012, multi-year projects beginning in 2012 such as the Taylor Drive project, and projects in need of additional funding.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said that council is taking comfort knowing that municipal staff, along with public input, helped shape this capital budget into a realistic one.

“Council has already a preview look at it and I think we’re ready to debate it,” he said. “When we embark on something, we look at the greatest good for the greatest number.”

The City of Red Deer is hosting public open houses on the spray park and a possible additional skateboard park on Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Collicutt Centre at 3031 30th Ave. and at the G.H. Dawe Community Centre at 56 Holt St. from 1 to 3 p.m.

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