Tight budget predicted

Mayor Morris Flewwelling is predicting another tight budget in a year that will likely see a new face or two welcomed aboard city council.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling is predicting another tight budget in a year that will likely see a new face or two welcomed aboard city council.

Monetary matters was one of the pillars Flewwelling touched on in his speech touting the city’s vision for sustainability, which he presented to the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday over the noon hour.

“It will be a tight budget,” Flewwelling said.

“There will be almost no initiatives unless they’re really, really critical or vital.

“And we will even be looking . . . at ways in which we can fund what we consider important and basic services by making some cuts and perhaps discontinuing some things that we do, that upon reflection and review we might just decide to reduce or drop completely.”

Over recent years, he said, the city’s budget has routinely seen an increase between seven and eight per cent.

The budget for 2010, however, saw the increase down to about three per cent, something that Flewwelling said should be expected for the pending financial plan as municipal recovery typically lags behind economic recovery.

Despite this, he doesn’t foresee much of struggle to balance the sheets for 2011.

“When you come from a certain level to a drop, that’s very tough,” Flewwelling said.

“To hold tough is likely not going to be that tough.

“What we try to do in this budget tightening is to make the reductions in a manner that doesn’t devastate anyone of our programs that the public are very supportive of.”

He also predicts budgetary discussions will go over fairly seamlessly in this election year.

“This new council, which will have likely a couple of new council members, will have very little influence on the budget,” Flewwelling said, reasoning that city staff prepares the budget from May to December and that new councillors elected in October may be hesitant to suggest major adjustments.

“I think where you will really begin to see the influence of the new council working as a cohesive group will be in the next year’s budget, the 2012 budget. By then, they will have a year under their belt.”

Overall, he said, approving a tighter budget will not derail council’s mission to foster responsible growth in Red Deer.

“If you have a vision and you know where you’re going, if you delay by getting there by a year or two or five, that’s all right,” Flewwelling said.

“Because that’s responding to the reality of the moment. We don’t change the vision, we just stretch the process.”

ptrotter@bprda.wpengine.com