At the regular April 27 meeting of the Lacombe County Council, a motion was carried to approve an offer to Sturgeon County to bid on the purchase of road equipment.
Lacombe County currently has a 2005 Caterpillar 815 packer which is up for replacement next year. In a call with the Eckville Echo, Manager of Operations Phil Lodermeier stated that purchasing a replacement packer new would be prohibitively expensive -it would be a transaction that would run Lacombe County around $690,000.
In search of a more cost efficient means of replacing their packer, Lacombe County has been in consultation with Sturgeon County about purchasing a replacement from them.
“Sturgeon County is selling selling a piece of their equipment fleet, and they have the one that is a 2015 – only two years old,” said Lodermeier.
Lacombe County will make a bid on Sturgeon County’s 815 packer – a piece of equipment that has only clocked 350 hours of use, that Lodermeier described as “like brand new.”
The potential replacement packer is intended primarily for road construction use, Lodermeier noted, saying that it works with buggies, Caterpillars and graders to pack the road and ensure that it’s not too soft.
If purchased by Lacombe County, the new packer would be used in the work that is scheduled to be done on Range Road 3-2 (Safronovich Road), northeast of Eckville.
Also at the meeting, Council discussed budget allotments for this year, in light of the 2016 operating budget surplus of just over $1.447 million. The surplus represents about three per cent of the total operating budget for 2016.
Manager of Corporate Services Tim Timmons described it as “a reasonable surplus,” and said it will be allocated to three reserves to be used to fund programs and initiatives in future years.
One reserve that will be seeing an increase in funding is the County’s Bridge Reserve, money that will eventually go toward the future replacement of bridges in the County. One bridge, in particular, that will be getting attention is a bridge near the Eckville Cemetery.
“Recently, we have not been able to achieve that minimum contribution annually, so we proposed to supplement the Bridge Reserve, by $480,000, using surplus funds from last year,” said Timmons.
Surplus funds will also be going toward the Recreation Capital Assistance Reserve – that was established to fund recreation facilities throughout the County, as well as in towns and villages within the County.
Potential improvements that residents of Eckville could see this funding reflected in include hypothetical improvements to the Eckville Community Hall, arena and curling rink.
“We want to make sure we have sufficient funding to support recreation facilities in the future,” said Timmons. “Lacombe County’s contribution to those improvements would be funded through that reserve.”
The County also allocated $480,000 to the stat Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve – a reserve it uses to balance its budget.
Timmons noted that there were a few reasons the County saw an operating budget surplus in 2016, including an increase in revenues from the County’s drilling tax, given the heightened amount of drilling activity in Lacombe County in 2016.
Timmons said the County also saw savings in operational activities, better returns in its investment income and savings in the area of its Road Construction Program, given that there were a number of rain delays that limited how much roadwork could be completed last year.