By Trevor Busch
More than 30 projects have been included in the Town of Taber’s 2017 capital budget, which is the first part of an original proposition for a 10-year capital plan that has now been significantly curtailed in scope.
At their Nov. 28 regular meeting, town council voted unanimously (6-0) that council adopt the 2017 and 2018 capital plan, with the recognition that the remaining eight years of the plan be reviewed in 2018 with the intention to adopt a four-year capital plan at that time. Coun. Jack Brewin was absent from the meeting.
The total capital expenditure for 2017 is $16,778,229, which consists of $4,100,395 from reserves, $8,893,834 from grants, $1,084,000 from donations, and $2,700,000 from LTD. Total capital expenditures in 2018 are estimated at $12,981,235, consisting of $4,300,865 from reserves and $8,680,370 from grants. The capital budget includes continuing and multi-year projects carried over from 2016, as well as 2017-2026 capital projects.
“If you look at your funding, at the end of 2018 you will have approximately $6 million, which I think is saying a lot, because we’re anticipating doing $30 million in capital projects, and we’re still going to have $6 million in the bank,” said finance director and acting CAO Devon Wannop. “So I think that’s saying a lot that we’re getting a lot of grants in upcoming years.”
Projects in the 2017 capital budget include the Barton Drive Underground Utilities ($184,000), PLC replacement ($60,000), proposed hydrants ($145,000), BNR Plant Sludge Removal Process Upgrade ($100,000), Fibre Communications Cable Install ($70,000), Taber Industrial Lagoon and Irrigation System Upgrade ($5,715,000), Emergency Training Centre ($60,000), Taber Centre for the Performing Arts ($7,200,000), and the Arena Refridegeration/Mechanical Systems Upgrade ($1,530,000).
Other projects in 2017 consist of Auditorium Facility Modernization and Mechanical System Upgrade ($20,000), Diamond Software Version Upgrade ($10,000), Telephone System Replacement ($165,000), Annual Computer Replacement ($126,000), laser ($8,000), radio console ($120,000), office furniture ($5,000), Bobcat ToolCat ($82,500), Spray Injection Patcher ($108,834), Tilt Deck Trailer ($8,745), Water Meter Replacement Program ($150,000), Commercial/Industrial, Multi-Family Bins ($50,000), Waste and Recycling Containers ($15,000), Large Ice Zamboni Unit ($125,000), Ball Groomer Unit ($11,000), and CCTV Spray Park ($8,000).
Mayor Henk DeVlieger speculated the purchase of a spray injector patcher might allow the town to postpone some paving projects in future, including a 2018 project involving 64th Avenue.
“I drive 64th (Avenue) quite a bit, and I feel personally, if we have to use that machine for what it’s meant for, then maybe that line item could be postponed a few more years to get a longer life span out of 64th Avenue. I think that machine — this investment — will save us a lot of money in the long run, and to get more life expectancy out of our roads by fixing the holes and the cracks and the patches before it becomes a bigger issue.”
Public works director and acting CAO Gary Scherer indicated speculation of this nature was largely a crystal ball proposition.
“It definitely could be, but if we have another bad winter like we did two years ago, we had a lot of frost heaving — that road is going to fall apart, I can guarantee you that. But none of us have a crystal ball. If we have great winters, yes, it could stay there for another five years.”
Scherer went on to note that if the road surface’s granular base is damaged due to frost heaving, the cost of repair or replacement will be higher.
“As long as water doesn’t penetrate the granular material, the structural integrity of it will be maintained. But there are portions now that are beyond that, which need repair. Not all of it, but just small portions of it. If we do postpone it — and we can, certainly that’s council’s decision — if we do have problems with frost heaving, that will break up that structural granular material, your costs will be escalated at least 50 per cent.”
Also in 2017, the town has allocated for recreation software ($6,150), bagger mower unit ($22,000), mower replacement unit ($125,000), mower replacement unit ($33,000), Bio-Can Capital Project, Scale, Liner and Miscellaneous Equipment ($20,000), Trail Extension to M.D. Park ($64,000), 50th Avenue Improvements ($50,000), Annual Police Car Replacement ($50,000), Crew Cab One Ton Truck ($42,000), Capital Purchases from EPCOR ($250,000), and a 3/4 Ton Truck ($39,000).
According to administration, “it has also been taken into consideration that certain projects will not be completed if the grant funding is not approved. We will need to discuss further projects to ensure the town maintains its sustainability going forward.”
“Any of these projects that aren’t fully funded by capital reserves, if we don’t get the grant funding or the donations that we anticipated, the project is not going to be done,” said Wannop. “If they do not get the grant funding, we will not be doing these projects.”