Today the City of Edmonton released the proposed 2019-2022 Capital Budget

Editor’s Note: Today, October 18, 2018, the City of Edmonton released the proposed Capital Budget for 2019-2022. This afternoon Todd Burge, the City’s Chief Financial Officer, and Adam Laughlin, the City’s Deputy City Manager of Integrated Infrastructure Services, answered reporters’ questions at City Hall. Here are Mr. Burge’s opening remarks: 

The City of Edmonton’s Capital Budget is about building a great city.

It’s about the new – and renewal of – roads, bridges, sidewalks, parks and facilities that we use every day.

It’s a mix of maintaining the infrastructure we have and building the infrastructure we need – all in benefit to Edmontonians and their quality of life.

Putting together this Capital Budget has taken a lot of work; the direction of City Council, the feedback of residents and the dedication of City of Edmonton employees.

It’s the game plan for how we’ll allocate more than $4 billion in infrastructure resources over the next four years.

It was thoughtfully prepared to help guide the City in the development and design of our Capital projects.

This Budget not only outlines what things cost now, but estimates what they will cost in the future.

This helps us – and City Council – make more informed planning decisions and ultimately achieve better value for tax dollars.

Laughlin and Burge answer media questions

Laughlin and Burge answer media questions

More than 60 per cent of all public infrastructure is the responsibility of municipal government – to both build and maintain.

The Capital Budget ensures we balance the right level of investment in both existing and growth infrastructure.

With a tight economy, a slower rate of growth and uncertain funding from other levels of government – this is a more constrained budget than we have seen in previous years.

Of the $4.3 billion of investment in 2019-2022 – $2 billion is earmarked for the renewal of our existing infrastructure.

$1.8 billion is for transformational and other projects previously approved by City Council.

$0.3 billion is for new projects tied to constrained funding sources that can only be used for specific purposes.

And $0.2 billion is for new projects in 2019 to 2022 being funded from unconstrained sources.

Administration has proposed a budget that helps Council make decisions on how to prioritize and allocate available funding.

This is the challenge of city building elected officials face – asking “what do we want to do and what can we afford to do?”

And “what needs to be done now and what can be done later?”

The City of Edmonton has changed the way we plan, design and build our infrastructure projects to better guide City Council as they ask these questions.

This new Project Development and Delivery Model (PPDM) gives City Council – and Edmontonians – greater transparency and input into the progression of these projects.

PDDM will promote equitable outcomes as part of project / budget development because of our commitment to better stakeholder engagement and process transparency in the course of project development and delivery.

All of this helps the City and Council make more informed decisions about how to allocate capital spending.

Laughlin and Burge with media after news conference

Laughlin and Burge with media after news conference

The Capital Budget is supported by a number of funding sources – taxation, smart investments like the Ed Tel Endowment fund, provincial and federal government matched funding and partnership funding.

The total available funding from all sources for 2019-2022 is $4.3 billion.

Committed funding to beyond 2023 is $850 million – primarily made up of Transit and Yellowhead investments – for total funding of $5.2 billion proposed in the capital budget.

Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding is projected to be reduced by $240 million over the next four years.

The program ends in three years and we have conservatively estimated it will be replaced at a similar level as it is today.

While we continue to work with the province on a new funding model, this reduction limits our ability to fund a number of growth and renewal-related projects.

While much of the Capital Budget focuses on our three transformative city-building projects – Blatchford, LRT and Yellowhead, we have balanced this with our commitment to invest in renewal.

The City has a well developed model to identify the investments required to rehabilitate existing infrastructure to meet Council and citizen expectations.

That said overall funding constraints and trying to balance risk and need for some growth projects have put the renewal funding at 90 per cent of the ideally modelled target.

Administration has prioritized our assets based on condition to ensure critical infrastructure is maintained.

Programs like Neighbourhood Renewal continue at existing funding levels and Council has endorsed an Alleyway renewal program that will begin in the 2019-2022 Capital Budget, funded from the tax levy.

With the exception of some the City’s transformative projects that have matched funding from other orders of government, other growth projects have been constrained.

Potential projects have gone through an extensive review and given priority based on Council goals … legislative and safety obligations … and base service growth.

A number of projects eligible under the city’s debt funding policy are included as unfunded for Council consideration. Administration has included these projects in the Budget documents as well as an expansive discussion on debt and debt projections.

This Capital Budget is for a four-year budget cycle.

Multi-year budgeting helps Council and Administration to better plan for our future.

It improves transparency and allows the City more flexibility to adjust to changing priorities or economic circumstances.

Ultimately it helps us better serve City Council in the decisions they need to make and better serve Edmontonians and the tax dollars they’ve entrusted us to spend.

Next Tuesday, October 23, the City will present the proposed 2019-2022 Capital Budget to City Council.

Edmontonians will have an opportunity to speak to Council on the proposed budget at the November 15 non-statutory public hearing.

City Council will begin discussion and deliberation of the budget on November 28.

If you have any questions about the budget, you can ask them at https://yegcitybudget.ca

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Todd Burge
Chief Financial Officer, City of Edmonton
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