Red Deer city council is expected to discuss raising its self-imposed debt limit to possibly allow for financing an aquatic centre project in the future, as part of its 2023-24 budget process.
But adding a new aquatic centre to the city’s 10-year capital plan wouldn’t be revisited until 2025.
Aquatic centre proponent Roy van der Sluis had complained earlier this fall that it would be impossible to get the $80- to $100-million Olympic-size pool built under council’s low, self-imposed debt ceiling. It is now at 75 per cent of what provincial guidelines advise for a city Red Deer’s size.
Van der Sluis said Red Deer is, to his knowledge, the only Alberta municipality that is keeping its debt limit so low.
On Monday, Mayor Ken Johnston said council indicated a willingness to discuss re-setting its debt limit as part of the capital budget process, which is expected to be deliberated later this week.
When council started discussing the capital operating budget for 2023 and 2024 on Monday morning, Coun. Dianne Wyntjes asked about the possibility of raising the debt limit.
Lisa Perkins, the general-manager for City of Red Deer’s corporate and employee services, responded that just because citizens can increase their credit card limits doesn’t mean they can afford to pay for more debt.
“We do not consider more debt to be advisable at this time,” said Perkins.
City manager Tara Lodweyk had previously spoken of the negative impacts of inflation and higher bank interest rates.
The aquatic centre is not on the City of Red Deer’s 10-year capital plan at this time. But on Monday, council heard this decision will be up for reconsideration in 2025.