Snow removal funding boosted

Red Deer County passed a $64-million operating and capital budget on Tuesday, but not before adding an extra $500,000 for snow removal.

Red Deer County passed a $64-million operating and capital budget on Tuesday, but not before adding an extra $500,000 for snow removal.

The extra cash boosts the county’s snow removal budget to $2.5 million and was in response to the early winter snowstorms.

Coun. Connie Huelsman proposed the amendment, saying while the money might not be needed depending on how the winter goes, it was better to be proactive.

The rest of council agreed.

Mayor Jim Wood said it’s important to give the operations staff the funds they need to do the job required. The money will come from a reserve fund.

The overall budget — which includes $51.2-million operating and $21.8-million capital budgets — meets the community’s needs, said Wood.

“This budget is basically a business-as-usual budget.”

Wood said two weeks ago when the budget was first introduced that the county’s practice in recent years has been to keep tax increases in line with the inflation rate, which is around one per cent.

As is usual, road maintenance ranks as a high priority. More than $18 million is budgeted for capital road work and maintenance in 2014.

Among new budget initiatives is nearly $2.4 million for bridge repairs. Alberta’s municipalities are facing rising costs for bridge work because the province’s inventory is, in many cases, 40 to 50 years old.

The province announced earlier this year it was suspending for three years a program to help municipalities pay for repairs and replacement.

Another big ticket item will be cleaning up Kevisville landfill site and returning it to a natural state at a cost of $1.6 million.

While tax rates will not be set until early 2014, the budget forecasts $42.3 million in tax revenue, up $1.7 million from 2013.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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