Red Deer City capital budget leaner due to economic conditions

$26-million trimmed from 2015 estimates

It’s not the capital budget the City had projected a year ago, but it’s reflective of the slowed economy impacting Red Deer.

Nearly $30-million was trimmed from the 2016 projections in this year’s capital budget in response to what city manager Craig Curtis called “changing economic circumstances of this province, particularly in the revenues the city receives.”

“It’s a budget of fairly significant change,” he told council Tuesday morning.

“But that’s not to say the budget is all doom and gloom.”

In 2015, the estimated capital plan for this year cost $133-million, but that was reduced to $106.8-million before the presentation of the 2016 plan.

Curtis said Red Deer’s economy contracted by 2.1 per cent in 2015 and the Conference Board of Canada estimates the city’s economy with contract by 0.8 per cent this year before gaining 1.4 per cent next year. For comparison, the city’s economy grew by 4.5 per cent from 2010-2014.

Among the largest deferred projects is the North Highway Connector, construction has been pushed back three years from 2019 to 2022.

The city is pressing forward with other projects including the development related to the 2019 Canada Winter Games and the QEII and Gaetz Avenue interchange.

Curtis and Chief Financial Officer Dean Krejci opened the two-day capital budget session with presentations to city council. Krejci highlighted much of the city’s financial standing and its estimated $304-million debt in 2017. He pointed out the per capita debt was $3,414, which is below the inflation adjusted peak in 1983 of $3,608.

Debt could become a greater concern by 2021 as the plan presented to council showed the debt is expected to increase above the 75 per cent guideline between 2021 and 2024. This is due largely to the proposed multi-user aquatic which is projected to cost the city $73.4-million in 2021.

Debate continues Tuesday and Wednesday with council thoroughly discussing the capital plan.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

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