Council Endorses Plan to Defer More Than $7.3 Million In Projects In 2020

In an effort to help reduce costs in the municipality during the COVID-19 pandemic, Council endorsed a plan Monday night which defers more than $7.3 million dollars in projects. Most of these projects will be carried forward to 2021.

The Industrial Land Development (ILD) projects, which included construction of deep and shallow utilities, and gravel road installation, have been removed from the 2020 budget, for the time being, due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 situation. Approximately $566,000 of that budget will be reallocated back to the 2020 Capital Works Program. The City is diligently working to complete the subdivision and environmental assessment processes of this project. The ILD project will come back for discussion during the 2021 – 2025 budget deliberations.

“Council and staff worked diligently on identifying the essential and non-essential items or projects for the balance of this year. We know that some decisions are not going to be popular, but rest assured they were necessary. The citizens best interests were always considered,” says Mayor Lee Pratt.

Key projects that will continue in 2020 are the capital works program, which includes the annual road rehabilitation program, water, sanitary and storm sewer works. Western Financial Place roof, replacement of the brine chiller, and the replacement of boards at both WFP and Kinsmen arenas, will move forward. The water quality asset management plan, wheeled excavator replacement, and the Joseph Creek sediment control and channel construction will also be completed.

“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,” says 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,” Osborne adds.

In all, $8.54 million is earmarked for projects to proceed, with another $6.36 million to be expended on projects that are already underway or will be completed in 2020. $4.71 million in new projects have been deferred. $2.62 million in other projects are being monitored and if the situation changes or is not as bad as anticipated may be brought forward for completion in this year.

“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, adding, “together we will get through this.”

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