Regrets? We’ve had a few. . .

It’s no surprise the international economic downturn caused significant challenges with City of Red Deer operations.

It’s no surprise the international economic downturn caused significant challenges with City of Red Deer operations.

With less money coming in from the federal and provincial governments, the city had less money to work with.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said one big disappointment was not receiving the dollars the city needed for its huge road planned for the northeast side.

The North Highway Connector was not identified in Alberta Transportation’s construction program for 2008 to 2011.

“We can’t do it on our own and it’s such a big project,” Flewwelling said.

Flewwelling was also dismayed that the province trimmed its Municipal Sustainability Initiative program, money that is used for capital projects.

And city coffers aren’t expected to get any larger for the upcoming 2010 budget.

Councillor Tara Veer said she believes she and her colleagues could have handled the recession more efficiently.

“I think council had a responsibility to be more cautious in our budgeting for 2009,” she said. “We could have demonstrated more leadership.”

Councillor Cindy Jefferies agrees the biggest challenge for this council has been the financial slump — and it’s not going to get any easier.

“It probably involves rejigging our longer-term capital plan, and finding some creative solutions and deciding to put off a few things.”

Councillor Gail Parks said there needs to be major budget reform. Instead of approving additional requests made by departments, Parks said council should be reviewing each department’s base budget as well.

“It’s really hard for council to make decisions when we don’t know (the base budget),” said Parks. “We are approving 90 per cent of the budget that we haven’t seen.”

She hopes this change will happen for the 2010 budget talks.

Veer supports this initiative too.

“It’s almost a done deal before we look at (the budget),” she said.

Other noted disappointments:

Flewwelling — The Scott Block didn’t pick up steam right away as a cultural centre in downtown Red Deer, but he’s glad business has picked up after a new private owner bought the building the fall of 2008.

Buck Buchanan — “We seem to hire a lot of consultants,” he said. The biggest disappointment for him is how long it seems to take to get things done.

Jefferies — The new Gaetz Avenue and 32nd Street intersection upgrades should have been more aesthetically pleasing. “In the long run, it will be OK but I think we lacked a greater vision,” she said. “I think it started it in the last (council) term and continued on.”

Lynne Mulder — She was disappointed with the lack of provincial funding but otherwise doesn’t have any regrets. “I’m a big believer in council.”

Parks — No decision has been made yet on Give Away Garbage days. This practice would allow residents to set unwanted items, like a couch, outside for people to pick up for free.

Larry Pimm — “I can’t really say I really hated this decision or that. Everybody does their best.”

Veer — Disappointed with the provincial government’s decision to take over responsibility and funding of ambulance services from municipalities. “My hope is that municipalities would have maintained governance,” she said.

Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer — The province’s decision to close Alberta Hospital beds because that will impact the service of mentally ill here.

Frank Wong — “I don’t have any disappointments.”

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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