Cranbrook city council is deferring a number projects totalling a value of just over $7 million to next year in an effort to reduce costs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan, endorsed on Monday evening during a regular council meeting, removes construction of deep and shallow utilities in the Industrial Lands development from the 2020 budget. That project, originally budgeted at $2.5 million and $2.75 million, respectively, was set to get underway this summer as part of the plan to get underlying infrastructure into the properties. The construction of a gravel road through the properties has also been postponed.
“Council and staff worked diligently on identifying the essential and non-essential items or projects for the balance of this year, said Mayor Lee Pratt, in a news release. “We know that some decisions are not going to be popular, but rest assured they were necessary. The citizens best interests were always considered.”
The industrial lands development projects will come back to council for discussions in the next 2021-2025 budget discussions, according to the city.
While the industrial lands development is on hold, other key projects will continue, such as the 2020 Capital Works program, which includes road rehabilitation, water, sanitary and storm sewer works. Additionally, approximately $566,000 was reallocated from the industrial land development budget into the 2020 Capital Works program.
The replacement o the Western Financial Place roof, which has already gone out to tender, will continue as scheduled, as well as the replacement of the brine chiller, and arena boards at both WFP and Kinsmen Arena. Other projects moving ahead include the water quality asset management plan, wheeled excavator replacement and the Joseph Creek sediment control and channel construction.
A staff report presented to council included a list of projects deemed essential, non-essential and monitor and the funding source for each one. For example, the 2020 Capital Works program was classified as essential and budgeted at $2.4 million from revenues and supplemented with the $566,000 from the Industrial Lands Development project.
Non-essential projects included postponing the purchase of a dump truck and plow, while the city is monitoring others, such as purchasing a ladder truck for Fire and Emergency Services for $1.4 million that was set to be acquired through borrowing this year.
“While a lot of work went into identifying priority projects for the 2020 – 2024 Five Year Financial Plan, the City needed to take steps to ensure that sufficient liquidity levels could be maintained to protect against reduced cash flows due to COVID-19,” said Charlotte Osborne, Director of Finance with the City of Cranbrook.
“Projects that could be temporarily deferred without increasing risk to people or other city owned assets, and where the City would not lose out on grant funding, were identified and reviewed with Council. These projects will not be acted on in 2020 but will be carried forward to 2021.
“If it becomes necessary to free up funds to temporarily finance operations until cash flow improves, some of these projects may be eliminated from the budget and would need to be brought back during a later budget cycle for reconsideration.
“This move represents good financial management and will help the City be able to continue to provide services to the residents, meet its contractual obligations and be better able to deal with potential emergencies such as flood or wildfire events.”
All told, $8.54 million in projects will proceed, while $6.36 million is to be spent on projects that are already underway or set for completion this year. Roughly $4.71 million in new projects have been deferred and $2.62 million in other projects are being monitored and may or may not move forward depending on how the city’s financial position evolves.
“I am extremely happy with the Council and staff on all their efforts put forth in this exercise. I also ask the citizens and general public to be patient and understanding during these unprecedented times,” says Mayor Pratt. “Together we will get through this.”