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Road rehab and financial management discussed for Coaldale budget

Posted on December 13, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Heather Cameron
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

On December 7, 2023, the Town of Coaldale met for Budget Deliberations.

Following the approval of the proposal for the replacement of the financial management software, Mayor Van Rijn requested that Deputy CAO Kyle Beauchamp go through the details of the Road Rehab Proposal one more time. Beauchamp complied and explained that there is $425,000 allocated for next year followed by $575,000 for 2025, so those two balances accumulate to a million-dollar due to economies of scale and efficiencies. Administration, Beauchamp said, is not proposing to invest the funds; they are proposing to combine the 2024 and 2025 amounts and so if the amounts are approved, the funds would be taken and pushed down the road to 2025 to magnify the potential benefits from the economies of scale. If the funding is not achieved, Beauchamp said, Administration said, it reduces the availability to implement these programs and there are essentially two options for Council then; they can maintain without having these programs and this funding available for these resources or they can essentially cut services in other areas or increase taxes to fund these areas. Beauchamp then mentioned, going to the capital budget, the sanitary trunk line for Phase Two, and the estimated cost for that is about $5 million. A lot of the cost, Beauchamp said, is associated with levies, but since there are multiple levy projects coming up, some delays with future developments and some reallocation of funds from the Land Sale Account, there is an existing need to redirect some funds to fund this project. 

That said, Beauchamp again stated that Administration is proposing that $1 million for 2025 would be allocated to the Road Rehab program for the sanitary trunk line because 16th Avenue will essentially be totally torn up and this would be the first road rehab program for that year. Beauchamp said that Administration is proposing to directly have those funds tie to a capital project for 2025 going forward past that year, assuming the funding model is improved in theory; that should essentially leave a million dollars or close to that available for annual maintenance of Coaldale’s roads going forward. 

During the open discussion, Council Abrey stated that it is not that he is against the road rehab; he is not going to spend money he doesn’t have, as Council has done that with other projects, and he refused to commit to anything until he sees money coming in. Abrey said he believes that this project is something that Council can look at once they see the first payment comes in whether they know the dollar amount or when, if there is going to be a dollar amount, because a lot of the stuff that Council approved last term was all based on projections and he doesn’t want to be like the municipalities around us that get into financial trouble. Councillor Pickering concurred with Councillor Abrey, saying he wasn’t comfortable just not comfortable spending money that Council has not seen yet and once it does show up, they can carry on and discuss how much they want to go on then. Beauchamp then threw out to Council the mechanics of how this could potentially work: the Council could make the proposals conditional on receiving the 70/30 funding from the R.C.M.P. and because they are in reserve accounts for projects set aside in future years, there will not be any actual expenditures. The money, Beauchamp said, will just be being set aside at a future date. Councillor Chapman then spoke and said that he would speak in favor of for example of the Road Rehab program and the rest of the proposals, but the ‘but’ part is the concern that nothing is known yet until it is seen in actuality. Chapman says that he would hate to jump in full steam and then realize that Council is not going to be made whole with those hopes. Chapman also asked Beauchamp if there would be any road patching or the like and Beauchamp said that anything like that would be maintained through the Road’s General Operating Budget, but there would be limits. 

Van Rijn then asked Beauchamp to again go over why Council would want to pause 2024 to build up the funds for 2025. Beauchamp complied and explained that when the town is going for a tender or looking forward towards a project, if they’re spending half a million dollars every year versus a million every other year, there’s the inherent factors of economies and cost efficiencies. People, Beauchamp said, can get a better bang for their buck the more money they spend at once rather than stagger it over a few years. Administration, Beauchamp said, is currently looking at that and finding that they are getting a better service by staggering the years and combining the funding over multiple years for better economies of scale from that perspective so they can get the spend the same the money, but get a higher quantity of service from that. 

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