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March 12th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 10
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2014 budget means
big decisions for council
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
At Thursday’s capital budget meeting, council was tasked with making big decisions regarding the future of the municipality’s infrastructure.
“How much debt would you as council be prepared to consider as we move forward… not only this year but over the next four years,” said CAO Sheldon Steinke.
The municipality has a 10-year capital plan that will mean large investments in the community’s water and wastewater infrastructure. Stantec Consulting developed the plan in 2007 and has updated it yearly. The plan identifies five major projects for 2014 and defers eight more for future years.
The five 2014 projects will cost about $6.9 million and will be funded by a combination of grants, long term debt and taxes but the question of which projects to focus on and how to fund them are being left up to council.
Depending on which projects are prioritized, the Pass will be eligible for provincial grants to pay for some of these projects but this might mean deferring other projects, raising taxes or taking on long term debt.
In 2012, the Pass was servicing about $1.2 million dollars of debt.
“My tolerance for debt will be tied back to the percentage of tax increases we’re looking at. If we’re talking a 7-9 per cent tax increase to satisfy debt, personally I’ve got no interest in that,” said Councillor Dean Ward. “If we can get that number down to a reasonable level, I understand these things need to be done.”

The biggest capital project is an $18 million upgrade to the Frank Wastewater Treatment Plant with $5 million budgeted for 2014. The upgrade is required because Alberta Environment standards mean new effluent discharge limits are requiring changes to the treatment process. Without these changes, the plant may not be allowed to operate. The project is scheduled for completion in 2019.
The other 2014 projects include a $495,000 upgrade to the Sentinel Water Treatment Plant, around $800,000 for a system to control and monitor water and wastewater distribution, about half a million dollars to restore drainage lagoons in Bellevue and Hillcrest and about $40,000 for a video recording system for wastewater collection.
Council will continue deliberations at their operating budget meeting on March. 22, but Jeff Drain, senior associate with Stantec, says the community’s infrastructure is no better or worse than other communities.
“Every community in Southern Alberta and probably North America faces the same issue,” said Drain. “There’s been such a lag in capital funding for infrastructure replacement and renewal projects…the municipality is no different from any community.”
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March 12th ~ Vol. 84 No. 10
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