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City takes a long look at budget

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Estevan City Council had its first public discussions about the 2014 financial plan during a four-hour meeting on December 4.

 

Each of the department heads presented their operational needs and capital requests to council members. While council didn't remove anything from the budget, Mayor Roy Ludwig said further restraint might be needed on the capital side.

 

“We're looking at reducing some of our projects for next year, looking at doing what is absolutely necessary, and the rest we will probably postpone to the following year,” said Ludwig.

 

Ludwig referred to the 2014 document as a “turnaround budget.” Council wants to straighten out their finances, and then start paying down debt.

 

“We want to start whittling down our overdraft, and get to the point where we can keep living within our means, rather than extending ourselves,” said Ludwig.

 

There is about $5.79 million earmarked for debt repayment in the 2014 financial plan. The City's total debt, as of January 1, 2014, will be $37.7 million.

 

One of the biggest projects in the 2014 budget is Phase 2 of the Highway 47 rebuild. There is $1.97 million for resurfacing, and another $2.1 million for water main replacements. Those projects account for about $4.2 million of the nearly $8 million listed as committed projects.

 

Ludwig said they have to repair the intersection of Sixth Street and 13th Avenue, and they will resurface 13th Avenue from Sixth Street to Fourth Street.

 

But they're reviewing the other portions of the project, which includes resurfacing Sixth Street from 13th Avenue to Souris Avenue South and Souris South from Sixth Street to Fourth Street; and repairing the intersection of Fourth Street and Souris South.

 

“The issue we have on Sixth is that there are water mains in there, and then on Souris there are water main replacements that we want to look at,” said Ludwig.

 

Other committed projects from previous years include $1.5 million for the Wellock Road extension and the new residential subdivision northeast of St. Joseph's Hospital; $1.25 million for the remaining work on the Affinity Place parking lot; and $700,000 for repairs to Milne Crescent.

 

There's nearly $31.2 million in new capital items, but almost all of it in for the water treatment plant, the waste water treatment plant and the new water reservoir.

 

There's another $2 million for runway rehabilitation at the Estevan Airport, with money coming from the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program. The runways sustained damage during the flood of 2011.

 

There are other smaller capital projects in Leisure Services, Legislative Services and the Estevan Police Service budgets.

 

Nothing was added to the budget during the meeting, but there was some discussion about increasing the wages that Estevan's firefighters receive, to reflect the number of calls that the firefighters have received in 2013.

 

This was the first year that council has tackled its budget deliberations during one daytime session. In previous years, they met for two or three evening sessions. Ludwig said the new system worked well.

 

And he was pleased with the budget documents that were prepared by new City treasurer Jeff Ward, who drafted a more streamlined document, with fewer line items and redundancies.

 

Council will re-examine the 2014 financial plan in the new year. Then they will make any necessary additions and subtractions to the document, and set the mill rate and the utility rate. Ludwig anticipates that there will be a mill rate increase in 2014, but it's premature to say how much it will be. Estevan taxpayers had a two-mill increase in 2013, and Ludwig hopes that it won't happen again.

 

The 2014 budget has a deficit of about $827,000 in the operating fund.

 

“We'll have a better feel once we go over it a few more times,” said Ludwig.

 

A one mill increase would generate about $1 million.

 

 

 

 

City takes a long look at budget

By David Willberg

 

Estevan City Council had its first public discussions about the 2014 financial plan during a four-hour meeting on December 4.

Each of the department heads presented their operational needs and capital requests to council members. While council didn't remove anything from the budget, Mayor Roy Ludwig said further restraint might be needed on the capital side.

“We're looking at reducing some of our projects for next year, looking at doing what is absolutely necessary, and the rest we will probably postpone to the following year,” said Ludwig.

Ludwig referred to the 2014 document as a “turnaround budget.” Council wants to straighten out their finances, and then start paying down debt.

“We want to start whittling down our overdraft, and get to the point where we can keep living within our means, rather than extending ourselves,” said Ludwig.

There is about $5.79 million earmarked for debt repayment in the 2014 financial plan. The City's total debt, as of January 1, 2014, will be $37.7 million.

One of the biggest projects in the 2014 budget is Phase 2 of the Highway 47 rebuild. There is $1.97 million for resurfacing, and another $2.1 million for water main replacements. Those projects account for about $4.2 million of the nearly $8 million listed as committed projects.

Ludwig said they have to repair the intersection of Sixth Street and 13th Avenue, and they will resurface 13th Avenue from Sixth Street to Fourth Street.

But they're reviewing the other portions of the project, which includes resurfacing Sixth Street from 13th Avenue to Souris Avenue South and Souris South from Sixth Street to Fourth Street; and repairing the intersection of Fourth Street and Souris South.

“The issue we have on Sixth is that there are water mains in there, and then on Souris there are water main replacements that we want to look at,” said Ludwig.

Other committed projects from previous years include $1.5 million for the Wellock Road extension and the new residential subdivision northeast of St. Joseph's Hospital; $1.25 million for the remaining work on the Affinity Place parking lot; and $700,000 for repairs to Milne Crescent.

There's nearly $31.2 million in new capital items, but almost all of it in for the water treatment plant, the waste water treatment plant and the new water reservoir.

There's another $2 million for runway rehabilitation at the Estevan Airport, with money coming from the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program. The runways sustained damage during the flood of 2011.

There are other smaller capital projects in Leisure Services, Legislative Services and the Estevan Police Service budgets.

Nothing was added to the budget during the meeting, but there was some discussion about increasing the wages that Estevan's firefighters receive, to reflect the number of calls that the firefighters have received in 2013.

This was the first year that council has tackled its budget deliberations during one daytime session. In previous years, they met for two or three evening sessions. Ludwig said the new system worked well.

And he was pleased with the budget documents that were prepared by new City treasurer Jeff Ward, who drafted a more streamlined document, with fewer line items and redundancies.

Council will re-examine the 2014 financial plan in the new year. Then they will make any necessary additions and subtractions to the document, and set the mill rate and the utility rate. Ludwig anticipates that there will be a mill rate increase in 2014, but it's premature to say how much it will be. Estevan taxpayers had a two-mill increase in 2013, and Ludwig hopes that it won't happen again.

The 2014 budget has a deficit of about $827,000 in the operating fund.

“We'll have a better feel once we go over it a few more times,” said Ludwig.

A one mill increase would generate about $1 million.

 


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