Citizens present ideas on city spending

The City of Red Deer’s 2013 budget may see changes around roadwork, the Adopt-A-Park program and utility bills thanks to input from Red Deerians on Wednesday.

The City of Red Deer’s 2013 budget may see changes around roadwork, the Adopt-A-Park program and utility bills thanks to input from Red Deerians on Wednesday.

About 20 residents gave their feedback during the three-hour budget open house held at the downtown Scott Block building.

The rainy weather may have dampened attendance, but those who came provided good feedback on what the city could improve on and what it was doing right, said city manager Craig Curtis.

Curtis said some residents asked about road maintenance, which did see increased dollars within the 2012 budget.

“People were talking about some of the frost boils and pot holes that we’ve gotten because of the fluctuating winter,” said Curtis.

Some people also wondered how the city was going to handle its new Safety Charter workplan and specifically how the city would balance the need for officers versus crime prevention.

Residents also queried how the city would tackle major capital projects such as a 50-metre pool or concert hall, which are out of the city’s financial reach right now.

Curtis said it’s hoped the province will increase its Municipal Sustainability Initiative grants so these types of projects can go ahead sooner.

Members of the Red Deer River Naturalists would like to see the city expand it’s Adopt-A-Park program where volunteers would do things like pick up litter and monitor for invasive weeds.

People were also pleased with the work that’s being down to rejuvenate the downtown and the progress that’s been made on the Greater Downtown Action Plan, said Curtis.

Coun. Paul Harris said a lot of people spoke about issues the city is working on right now.

“I was especially happy to hear citizens wanting to see consumption attached to utility bills,” said Harris.

People were saying they’d like to see utility users get more of a break if they consume less.

That’s a discussion at City Hall right now, said Harris.

“There was some talk about roads and density and how we’re going to create more residential development in the downtown,” said Harris.

Resident Amandah Aldren said she’d like to see Curtis’s budget presentation in a booklet format at City Hall so people could absorb the information.

“Otherwise it was a very worthwhile evening,” said Aldren.

“One thing I learned is that city council wants people to tell them what the problem is. They respond to that and one of the councillors said, ‘Even if you get cranky, it’s OK if you call us 10 times.’”

Red Deer resident Stephanie Smith attended the session with her husband and their young son.

She said the event was good for getting the word out on the budget and that the community can get involved in it.

Smith herself hadn’t thought much about the city budget.

She said she’s satisfied with what the city is doing.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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