At its Dec. 11 meeting, Peace River town council approved its 2024 Capital Budget.

The capital expenditure budget is $6,351,800 and is largely funded by Tax Supported Revenues ($1.2 million), Utility Supported Reserves ($2.5 million), Local Government Fiscal Fund (LGFF, formerly known as MSI, $1.7 million), Canada Community-Building Fund (CCBF, formerly Gas Tax Fund, $750,000), and other provincial grants ($200,000).

“Capital budgets are for large projects such as buildings or items that can be depreciated/amortized. Operating budgets are of two types of operations that are supported by taxes and utilities that are supported by utility fees,” explains Mayor Elaine Manzer.

“The capital budget allows the Town to plan for maintaining and replacing aging or broken infrastructure from sidewalks to paving to pipes to buildings and equipment,” she adds.

The budget was prepared with anticipated allocations of both LGFF and CCBF based on previous years’ contributions. If they aren’t as high as anticipated, the Town will draw the extra money from reserves.

“The Province is announcing the changes but under the new Local Government Fiscal Fund, the revenue that municipalities will receive is dependent upon the revenues or deficits that the Province receives a few years in the past,” says Manzer.

“The municipalities have a better idea of what they will receive under the LGFF. The Province is developing the new allocation formulas.”

Manzer says the funding from both governments helps to provide extra monies to municipalities to help them provide services to their residents.

“These two allocation streams are ways the provincial and federal governments help the municipalities fund their local municipal operations,” says Manzer of CCBF and LGFF.

“The grants are important revenue sources for municipalities which have limited ways of raising revenues.”

Some of the capital budget is allocating money to purchase a breathing air fill station for Protective Services.

“It’s the unit that the fire department places the SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) bottles in to fill them with compressed breathing air (from their air compressor),” explains Manzer. “The current unit doesn’t meet today’s standard for blast protection should a bottle fail while being filled. The SCBA bottles are filled to 4,500 psi. The new unit will have the bottles contained behind steel doors, and it will not allow filling unless the doors are closed and latched for safety.”

Other capital projects planned include work on the pool, arena, parks, library and water park. Projects vary in span from small capital projects of $8,000 to the Saddleback Path Connection Improvement that will cost the Town $150,000.

“To have a town that is attractive to current and prospective residents, visitors both from our region and those farther away, and businesses/employees, it is important that we have some of the recreational and cultural amenities that they expect and enjoy,” says Manzer.

“The recreation facilities are a large group of the expected amenities and services. The Baytex, pool, museum, library, trails, parks, and green spaces are enjoyed by residents many visitors of all ages in all types of weather. Results of the Active Transportation study will help with plans for the next decade or more.”

Manzer says one change from 2023 is the elimination of the mural program, which she says councillors had a variety of views about its importance.

“The budget continues to support the Economic Development Committee activities and has added an Economic Development Officer as well.

“Council has also been updated several times on the hot tub and slide replacement issues at the pool. The budget includes the project to replace the hot tub and the slide project will be looked at to see what format that might take in a future year,” she concludes.

By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter – South Peace News – southpeacenews.com

Original Published on Jan 03, 2024 at 08:20