Edmonton City Council kicks off budget talks at City Hall

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Edmonton City Council kicked off budget deliberations on Monday by reviewing a draft of capital projects that could be funded over the next few years.

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Much of the proposed $7.75 billion capital budget for 2023-2026 focuses on repairing infrastructure such as the aging High Level Bridge and completing other projects the city has already committed to. , such as TLR extensions.

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Felicia Mutheardy, the city’s business economist, told councilors that Edmonton is recovering well from the financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, but inflation remains an issue.

« The city’s fiscal capacity will be further constrained with an increased risk that capital project costs will rise beyond expected inflation rates, » she said Monday.

Mutheardy said that means there is no guarantee inflation will come down and costs are not expected to come back down.

City administrators have warned the council for months that this budget will be difficult and may require large tax increases or deep service cuts to manage.

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Monday’s meeting was supposed to be a preview of the capital budget. The debate is postponed until next month.

The operating budget is expected to be released on Thursday and presented to city council on November 14, while the utilities budget is expected to be released on November 10 and presented to council on November 25. Boards, agencies and commissions will present their budgets on November 14. 30.

Public hearings are scheduled for November 28 and 29. The Board will discuss all of these points and ultimately determine what to fund from December 1 to December 16.

Delay more expensive repairs

Deputy City Manager for Infrastructure Adam Laughlin said the city uses a particular method to decide what infrastructure to fix using a formula that focuses on the physical condition of buildings or other city-owned items, the typical timing of their renewal, health and safety. , and board priorities.

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He pointed out that delaying repairs can have unintended consequences.

“Generally, the longer the required renewal of municipal assets is delayed, the more the impacts of deterioration are felt and the more costly it becomes to restore those assets to acceptable condition,” he said Monday.

Further delays could mean that up to a quarter of the city’s infrastructure falls into poor or very poor condition within a few years.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said previous councils made decisions that did not properly focus on maintaining and rehabilitating the infrastructure the city already has.

“This infrastructure is so essential to the functioning of this city, from the bridges to the libraries to the public transport and the buildings that we provide amenities to people, so we want them to be in good working order, and that is why this budget is going to focus more on repairs, rehabilitation,” he said. « Always focus on a little bit of growth…but it’s a budget that’s going to focus more on fixing what we have. »



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