DIDSBURY - Council got a look at the proposed 2020 capital budget at an open meeting on Oct. 29 at council chambers. The evening featured presentations from senior staff from each department with their proposed capital additions for 2020 as well as the presentation of the multi-year capital plan.
Municipalities must have both a capital and an operating budget each and every year. The capital budget is generally anything that lasts more than a year and could be land, buildings, roadways, vehicles, etc. The operating budget is day-to-day costs to operate the town and provide programs and services.
Mayor Rhonda Hunter said that overall the presentation went well and that the managers answered all the questions.
"Now the priority of them has to be sorted and see what the town can afford," said Hunter. "We all know the provincial budget just came down. I don't think Didsbury is different in that we have to look at our budgets really close this year and prioritize things accordingly. We may have to delay some projects because they're just not possible this year."
Hunter said most of the 18 projects brought forward to be looked at were from public works.
"You might say they're certainly bringing things forward that look to have been a priority for a long time and are getting adjusted to where they need to be," she said. "It doesn't mean they'll all be approved this year but it's nice to see our new public works manager is taking the bull by the horns and is really prioritizing what we need in the community."
The most expensive project at $1,070,000 is the 15th Avenue stormwater main extension followed by the AG Foods building acquisition at $990,000 and a new street sweeper at $407,000. Also on the proposed budget is a replacement roof for the Didsbury Memorial Complex's multi-purpose room/lobby at $150,000.
"The 20th Street project was put on hold," she said. "The biggest issue is the drainage down 15th Avenue. There's no use looking at capital projects in that area without looking at the drainage issue. Fifteenth Avenue has become the priority road for the stormwater main extension to deal with drainage issues. That means the 20th Street project is going to be put on the capital plan in another year."
Hunter said another priority for council is about crosswalks and pedestrian access on Highway 582 in town, which the town is working with Alberta Transportation on.
"We met with the ministry of transportation and talked about the need for a crosswalk on 23rd Street there (for Buy Low access)," she said. "We're also going to have to add sidewalks on both sides of 23rd so people can access Shantz commercial area. Our talks with the ministry that we can hopefully cost share it."
The projected cost for pedestrian connectivity for Shantz is a $290,000, while pedestrian connectivity for Memorial Park (by Tim Hortons-Centex) is $55,000.
"That's long overdue," she said. "Our crosswalk and crosswalk lighting needs to address the high amount of traffic going into Memorial Park for a variety of reasons. Safe access for our pedestrian traffic is certainly on our list of high priorities."
The town is holding two operating budget meetings on Nov. 5 and 6 from 6-9 p.m. in council chambers. There is also a budget open house held at the Didsbury Memorial Complex's multi-purpose room on Nov. 13 from 1-3 p.m. for those unable to attend the evening sessions.
"The proposed budget is subject to change based on council direction, which is expected to come at the regular council meeting on November 12," said Amanda Riley, Didsbury's chief financial officer.