Budget votes for portion of surplus to go to infrastructure

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Lisa Goudy
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Coun. Dawn Luhning is seen at the Feb. 7, 2013 budget committee meeting. Budget passed her motion to allocate 25 per cent of the city's yearly surplus, if there is one, to infrastructure projects.

Starting this year, 25 per cent of city surplus each year will go to infrastructure.

Budget committee voted in favour of Coun. Dawn Luhning’s motion to have 25 per cent of the surplus at the end of a year, if there is one, allocated to four line items every year— arterial and collector pavement rehabilitation, residential pavement rehabilitation, sidewalk slab replacement and sidewalks.

“Obviously work wise I’m not one to dictate which of those four lines it should go into. I just believe that those four are where we need some work as well,” said Luhning. “If there’s a deficit, then there wouldn’t be any movement.”

She added city administration would decide the amount of the surplus the city would allocate to each of those four line items.

The preliminary general capital expenditures in the five-year capital budget had a surplus of $8.8 million. Brian Acker, director of financial services, said normally those funds get allocated to certain projects.

Part of the reason the city had such a large surplus, according to Acker, is because although they had the money to put towards the work, they didn’t have the workers to get the job done.

“We had looked at allocating a large portion to our infrastructure renewal for sidewalks and roadways, but we struggled with being able to do that much additional work in those years … We need a plan on how we’re going to accomplish this work.”

Coun. Brian Swanson asked Acker if there are any downsides to the motion.

“When you arbitrarily allocate money based on a formula, it may not be how you want to direct the funds (come time to spend). You may want to rather say, ‘No, we’d rather direct that somewhere else this year or we’d rather do something else (with it,)’ said Acker. “ So that would be the only drawback. It’s an automatic thing that happens, so it kind of takes it away from council deciding.”

If there were any unforeseen circumstances to arise, there would be fewer funds available to take from the surplus, he said.

Matt Noble, city manager, said unforeseen circumstances could cause council’s priorities to change. If that were to happen, that would be a time to reevaluate priorities.

“Right now you’re establishing priorities,” said Noble. “You’re saying roads and streets require more.”

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

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