Red Deer County seizing opportunity for low construction costs with 2018 budget

By Josh Hall (Twitter: @Vancan19)
December 5, 2017 - 12:30pm

Red Deer County is taking advantage of the slow economy with its 2018 Capital Budget.
 
County council tabled the 2018-2022 Capital and 2018-2020 Operating expenditures on Tuesday with the public invited to provide feedback from now until they are debated on December 19.
 
Capital costs for 2018 are pegged at just over $39 million, coming back down to earth at $20 million for 2019 and 2020.
 
Mayor Jim Wood says any time twice the work can be done for the same amount of money is too good of an opportunity to pass up.
 
"It's very prudent to do so. Red Deer County is in a very, very strong financial position," Wood says. "We're debt free, we have a huge reserve and we build those reserves over time to take advantage of opportunities like we have right now."
 
Wood says costs will rise once the economy bounces back.
 
Notable 2018 projects, should the budget get full approval, include bridge repairs ($4.1M), Springbrook Water Treatment Plant and Reservoir replacement ($4.2M), Range Road 10 construction and overlay ($7.1M), and Township Road 354 rebuild and base pave ($8.3M).
 
A total of $32.7 million is proposed to be spent on infrastructure and roads in 2018. That number goes to just over $19 million the two years after.
 
On the operating side, just over $48 million is proposed for 2018, which is in line with past and future years. Wood explains ratepayers will see only minor increases on their tax bills.
 
"The mill rate for residential will be really minor. The only increase predicted is a very small one on the recreation side, which would almost be negligible to most tax bills," he says. "On the commercial side though, we have identified the need to replace lost revenue from our oil and gas sector. To make up for this, we are proposing a one mill rate increase to our commercial sector."
 
Wood says the increase is affordable and still very competitive with neighbouring municipalities. The equivalent of three full time positions are also proposed, with portions of those costs coming from provincial grants.
 
For all expenditures in 2018, $14.6 million will come from reserves with a total of $23.6 million coming from reserves over the next three years. The County's reserves are projected to be at $24.5 million in 2020.

“Administration has worked diligently to ensure service levels are maintained or increased with only a small increase to taxes," adds Heather Surkan, Director of Corporate Services. "Red Deer County has focused funding on areas of strategic importance such as community policing, road repairs, and municipal maintenance.”

To provide feedback ahead of debate on Dec. 19, visit RDCounty.ca or County offices.

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