June 18, 2024

“That is the primary price range cycle I’ve sat by means of in a decade the place we’re really speaking about cash we do not have,” stated Councillor Keith McGrath.

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Council had a sobering 4 days debating the 2024 price range as councillors grappled with a good money circulate that’s anticipated to slender within the close to future. The 2024 price range is $611.4 million. Operations makes up $474 million and $137.6 million will go to reserves for capital. The capital price range is $170.4 million with funding from grants, capital reserves and anticipated 2024 revenues.

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The Regional Municipality of Wooden Buffalo (RMWB) has no debt, however the assembly was full of warnings to be stingy with the general public purse.

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CAO Henry Hunter stated administration is planning a “high-level asset administration plan” which can establish what must be put aside to keep up the RMWB’s present belongings.

“I actually consider it’s going to be a shock for quite a few individuals round this room,” stated Hunter. “I’d advise in opposition to including new infrastructure until we actually, actually, really want it.”

Council was instructed that the price range’s multiyear tasks are price greater than $518 million and wish $422 million through the subsequent 5 years to finish. Work on these tasks started years in the past after they have been accredited by earlier councils.

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Laurie Farquharson, the RMWB’s chief monetary officer, stated mission funding requests forward of the assembly totalled $297 million. Requests have been trimmed right down to $124.2 million.

Mayor Sandy Bowman proposed a movement to pause a number of minor capital tasks from the price range price $4.8 million. He referred to as them “desires, not wants.” The movement handed unanimously.

Councillors and administration review the 2024 budget on December 14, 2023. Image supplied by George Kyriacoullis of the RMWB
Councillors and administration assessment the 2024 price range on December 14, 2023. Picture equipped by George Kyriacoullis of the RMWB

Councillor Allan Grandison stated extra capital tasks must be reviewed as a result of they have been accredited when the RMWB’s revenues have been stronger. Grandison and Councillor Keith McGrath have been each frightened concerning the RMWB’s long-term revenues.

“That is the primary price range cycle I’ve sat by means of in a decade the place we’re really speaking about cash we don’t have,” stated McGrath.

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The RMWB’s funds peaked in 2013 when council handed a $1-billion price range. However the RMWB has by no means recovered from the worldwide collapse in oil costs in late 2014. The municipality was additionally instructed in 2016 to start out reducing the distinction between the best rural non-residential tax class, which incorporates oilsands operations and camps, and the bottom residential taxes to a 5:1 ratio.

Council approves main tasks throughout RMWB

The RMWB’s largest tasks have been accredited by earlier administrations. The 2 largest are within the rural hamlets south of Fort McMurray.

Asphalt roads and roadside drainage will price $3.5 million within the 2024 price range and $16.2 million till 2029. The RMWB has already spent $104.2 million. Bringing operating water and sewage companies to the identical communities will price $6.3 million in 2024 and $25.8 million between 2025 and 2029. The RMWB has already spent $165 million on the mission.

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Fort McMurray’s largest mission is $33.8 million for flood mitigation. About $13 million has already been spent on the present flood mitigation mission. One other $103.9 million is required to complete the mission by 2028.

The federal and provincial governments have contributed a mixed $20 million. Bowman and administration hope to safe extra funding, and administration has utilized for a $40 million grant from the federal authorities.

The part masking Riedel Avenue to Longboat Touchdown would be the final to complete. An interim barrier shall be used within the meantime. The remaining flood limitations shall be completed by 2026.

Council and administration assessment the 2024 price range on December 14, 2023. Picture equipped by George Kyriacoullis of the RMWB

The Northside Twin Arenas, which can price $20 million subsequent 12 months. The world will price the municipality $50 million to construct by 2025. The mission was paused after the 2016 Horse River Wildfire.

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Councillors added smaller tasks to the price range or requested administration to assessment funding of recent tasks in 2024.

Councillor Stu Wigle efficiently pitched administration research a group corridor in Saprae Creek. Wigle stated the Fort McMurray Worldwide Airport has been proposed, however the constructing shouldn’t be designed for companies similar to childcare. He additionally questioned if Vista Ridge might be expanded to serve this objective.

Councillor Kendrick Cardinal efficiently added a brand new car for animal management officers in Fort Chipewyan. The group acquired greater than 500 calls in 2023, however Cardinal stated the SUV in the neighborhood shouldn’t be designed for this objective. He additionally proposed administration research a recycling program or facility in Fort Chipewyan.

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Highlights of the 2024 price range embody:

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