Town budget aims at keeping infrastructure functioning properly

Continued replacement of old sewer and water lines, land remediation, roadwork and recreation eat up a large portion

Continued replacement of old sewer and water lines, land remediation, roadwork and recreation eat up a large portion of the town of Stettler’s interim capital budget, but that is in line with budgets of the past, according to assistant CAO Steve Gerlitz.

The town plans its capital budget for three years, with the focus being on what can be done in the coming year. While the capital budget includes spending for the downtown park and a climbing wall at the Stettler Recreation Centre’s pool, most of the projects are simply necessary spending to keep Stettler functioning well.

The water and sewer lines on Highway 56, from the Kentucky Fried Chicken location to the Stettler Hospital, will be replaced this year.

The old cast iron lines are being replaced with more durable materials and are being buried deeper, Gerlitz explained. The current lines, too shallow, sometimes freeze or back up into residents’ homes, the budget document states. This replacement will fix that.

It will also fix lines that are simply old and prone to breaking or crushing. The project will include remediation of the soil adjacent to the line, which may have become contaminated from leaks from the lines. The project, for which the town has applied for a grant, would see the town, province and federal governments each pay a third of the project.

Highway 56 water and sewer line replacement has been going on since last year, when the province announced it would repave a section of Highway 56 from north of the town and through. To allow the town to avoid having to tear up the new pavement to replace the waterworks, the province delayed. The work requires a year for soil to settle in the trenches before paving to ensure there’s no settling under the new paving.

While crack repairs are scheduled in this year’s road budget, as always, two roads will find themselves repaved. The Esso service road will be repaved, as will 54 Street in front of the Stettler Schools complex.

The town managed to save itself nearly $150,000 toward the purchase of a new fire truck, which will be delivered this year. The company, based out of the United States, accepted United States currency only, and expecting this the town exchanged Canadian dollars for American when the Canadian dollar was higher, saving about $25,000. With the change in the dollar’s fortune, it would cost about $120,000 above the purchase price if the town had not secured the money in American dollars earlier.

The new truck will be replacing older units.

Roughly one fourth of the capital budget is reserved for recreation spending. According to Gerlitz, the Stettler Recreation Centre doesn’t pay for itself in dollars, though it does in how it benefits the community. Keeping access available at reasonable prices for the community means the town has to spend a bit more on the centre, something that hasn’t changed.

The budget was built around a three per cent tax increase, but the town is still waiting for assessment information to see how much tax income it can expect, one of the reasons why the budget won’t be formalized until May.

Currently, the town is operating under the interim budget, which assumes the three per cent increase in taxes, as of earlier in March when it came to council.