City council carved $1.8 million off the 2017 capital budget to bring it down to $104.97 million on Wednesday.
Last year the 2017 budget was anticipated to be $133 million which was reduced to $106.8 million by city administration before council even began debate on Tuesday.
Mayor Tara Veer said there has never been such substantial reductions during all her time on council. Both council and city administration were highly responsive to the provincial economy.
She said overall city revenues are down and access to provincial grants is uncertain.
“We wanted to make enough infrastructure investments in the community that we continue to move the community forward, that we show confidence in our local economy. These projects have economic spin-offs in terms of keeping Red Deerians working and attracting dollars to our local economy,” Veer said.
City manager Craig Curtis said residents wanted council to hold the line on spending where they could and council responded. The budget is about $60 million lower than the 2016 capital budget.
The biggest project cut from the budget was $970,000 to demolish the vacant RCMP detachment and build a parking lot while the city waits for the province to fund a new court house on the site.
Veer said council unanimously voted to table the project and have it return to council within six months while negotiations continue with the province.
Capital costs were also reduced by deferring both a $229,000 traffic calming pilot study and $219,000 for a second water slide at Collicutt Centre until 2018.
Money for road, sidewalk and pathway improvements to 32nd Street and 30th Avenue totalling $242,000 was eliminated. Instead the projects will be funded out of the general road budget as priorities. Another $147,000 for a public works project manager was cut by shifting it to the city’s operational budget. A replacement shed for city hall park, at $51,000, was eliminated.
Some of the budget items that passed included:
– Infrastructure replacement and rehabilitation projects, like pavement rehabilitation and roadway reconstruction.
– Future growth projects, like Taylor Drive intersection improvements, storm and water offsite improvements and waste management infrastructure for the Green Cart Program.
– Community amenity projects, like Riverwalk Phase 2 and Plaza, Red Deer Royals legacy project, Cronquist House preservation and playground development in Lonsdale.