Significant decrease in spending in proposed county budget

Red Deer County 2015 capital and operating budgets, tabled during county council’s Nov. 25 regular meeting, will see a $6 million decrease

Red Deer County 2015 capital and operating budgets, tabled during county council’s Nov. 25 regular meeting, will see a $6 million decrease in spending.

The 2015 operating budget sees a $1 million increase, and will rise from $45.4 million to $46.4 million. Outside funding requests account for about $3 million of that amount. Special levies remain unchanged: Community Services at 0.4000; Protective Services at 0.5000; and Environmental Services at 0.1590.

Fewer large-scale projects will mean a drastic decrease in capital spending in 2015, from more than $27 million down to about $20.5 million. The county says overall service levels won’t be affected by the decrease, as a number of one-off items were contained in the 2014 budget. A new Protective Services building and Gasoline Alley storm water improvements were among them.

Mayor Jim Wood said the budget is indicative of the county’s positive financial position.

“We continue to undertake major road and infrastructure projects without compromising our reserves or unfairly burdening our ratepayers,” he noted in a county release.

Director of corporate services Heather Gray said council’s strategic plan was strongly considered by administration while preparing the budget, with administration working to “ensure adequate resources are available to achieve success.”

A $1.1 million contribution to the Sylvan Lake Multiplex Redevelopment Project over two years is among the budget’s key initiatives. Others include a road paving program at $6 million, bridge repair projects at $4.1 million, an airport capital expansion request of $1.7 million, and a Canada Winter Games facility request for $500,000.

Public input is now being sought before the budget returns to council for approval Dec. 9. The draft budget can be viewed in its entirety on the Red Deer County website at rdcounty.ca.

“I would like to thank the staff and council for their hard work in creating this progressive budget,” said Wood.