Red Deer city manager Allan Seabrooke presented a proposed multi-year austerity budget for 2021 and 2022 on Thursday.

Red Deer city manager Allan Seabrooke presented a proposed multi-year austerity budget for 2021 and 2022 on Thursday.

City cuts spending for two-year tax freeze

Few new builds, lots of proposed maintenance projects

Red Deer’s first multi-year budget, proposed for 2021 and 2022, is being billed as “the right budget for the right time.”

Just as COVID-19 has sapped a lot of fun from life, the latest proposed operating and capital budget — impacted by the pandemic and the Alberta recession — is devoid of flash.

This isn’t the time to embark on costly undertakings, such as the long-awaited aquatic centre, said city manager Allan Seabrooke on Thursday.

“We will continue to plan for it and look for opportunities for funding… but it would not be financially prudent to proceed with large, new amenities in these times,” he said.

The proposed budget contains $219.2 million in capital projects in 2021 and $97.5 million in 2022.

It’s based on a tax freeze for the next two years, in recognition of the financial difficulties many residents and businesses are facing, said Mayor Tara Veer.

“No one is immune from financial hardship… so we are keeping taxes as low as possible.”

After undergoing staffing reductions and some organizational restructuring, the proposed budget for 2021 is about $11 million lower than in 2020, said financial officer Dean Krejci.

Also, no higher user fees are proposed in the budget, despite a decrease in provincial grants to municipalities, said Seabrooke.

The aim is for steadfast sustainability, added Veer.

Mostly maintenance projects will be embarked upon — the most hefty being $42.3 million in upgrades to the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

The capital proposal with the most public appeal is the $35.5 million upgrade of the G.H. Dawe Centre. If approved by city council in early December, the north recreation facility will receive a second ice rink to replace the pending loss of the aging Kinex Area.

Other centre improvements would mean a new spray park and the removal of access barriers in change rooms, so the facility can be used by sledge hockey athletes with disabilities.

Some other proposals in the budget are: nearly $27 million for road maintenance work, construction of a $4.4-million fire training facility, $4.6-million flood berms in the civic yards, a $2.9-million Collicutt Centre preservation project and $6.3 million on work on part of the Northlands Drive project (a CP rail overpass on Highway 11A).

Also included are proposals for $10 million in park land acquisition, $4.6 million for the Culture Services Centre renovation, $5.7 million for upgrading the 9-1-1 communications centre, $8 million for replacing stormwater infrastructure, and $2.8 million for fleet vehicle replacements.

Seabrooke said the city owns billions of dollars in capital assets and must ensure these are maintained as needed.

Because bank interest rates and inflation are both low, he doesn’t think the two-year tax freeze will impact the city’s ability to make timely upgrades.

Delivering recessionary budgets is tough enough, but the additional $1.3 million of COVID-19-related costs have led to an “exceptional” need for austerity, said Seabrooke.

If the province continues on a path to remove Red Deer’s integrated fire/ambulance dispatch system, it will cost the city about $500,000 annually. But Veer and various other Alberta mayors continue to lobby the government to reconsider this decision on the basis of preserving a better service.

Red Deerians have until Nov. 30 to provide the city with input on the proposed budget, which is available at www.reddeer.ca.

While paper copies are not being provided during the pandemic, residents without computer access can call 403-342-8111 to make other arrangements.

City council will deliberate on the multi-year budget from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4.

Red Deer City Council

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Some road and other maintenance projects proposed for 2021 and 2022 will involve the City of Red Deer civic yards. (Advocate file photo).

Some road and other maintenance projects proposed for 2021 and 2022 will involve the City of Red Deer civic yards. (Advocate file photo).

City of Red Deer Civic Yards (Advocate file photo).

City of Red Deer Civic Yards (Advocate file photo).

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Marcus Golczyk, with Taco Monster, hands food to a customer during Food Truck Drive and Dash in the Westerner Park parking lot in Red Deer Friday afternoon. The drive-thru event will run every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Food Truck Fridays, Food Truck Drive and Dash return in Red Deer

Red Deerians are able to take in a drive-thru food truck experience… Continue reading

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault chairs a premiers virtual news conference as premiers John Horgan, B.C., Jason Kenney, Alberta, and Scott Moe, Saskatchewan, are seen onscreen, Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Several provinces bring in new restrictions as high COVID-19 case numbers persist

Several provinces are gearing up to tighten public health measures once again… Continue reading

Members of the RCAF take part in a Royal Canadian Air Force change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Friday, May 4, 2018. The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open its doors to military pilots from other countries as it seeks to address a longstanding shortage of experienced aviators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
RCAF turns to foreign pilots to help with shortage as commercial aviators stay away

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open… Continue reading

An arrivals and departures information screen is seen at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The chief executive of Atlantic Canada's largest airport is hoping for COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers "sooner rather than later," as an added measure to combat the province's third wave of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Halifax airport CEO hopes for more on-site COVID testing ‘sooner rather than later’

HALIFAX — The chief executive of Atlantic Canada’s largest airport is hoping… Continue reading

Shoppers wear mask as they shop at a nursery & garden shop on Mother's Day weekend during COVID-19 pandemic in Wilmette, Ill., Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Tearful reunions mark second Mother’s Day under pandemic

Last Mother’s Day, they celebrated with bacon and eggs over FaceTime. This… Continue reading

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, standing, watches the game during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 5-2. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Tocchet won’t return as coach of Coyotes after 4 seasons

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes and coach Rick Tocchet have mutually… Continue reading

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella shouts at an official after a fight between Columbus Blue Jackets' s Gavin Bayreuther and Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Tortorella out after 6 years as Columbus Blue Jackets coach

COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Tortorella is out as coach of the Columbus… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Most Read