A lengthy list of road work and improvement projects has been proposed for the coming construction season.
Ponoka County’s public works superintendent Herb Schwingel presented the project plan to county council at its meeting on Feb. 14, but council wasn’t feeling the love given the potential for budgetary restraints that could be rolling down.
In total, there are 14 separate projects covering 17 miles (27.4 kilometres) of county roads. However, Schwingel added there may not be enough time to get work done on all of them. Major projects include construction on two miles of Range Road 282 from Highway 53 to Township Road 432, four miles of Range Road 241 from Township Road 422 to Highway 53 and Range Road 12 for 1.5 miles north of Township Road 434.
A request to buy a new compactor was approved, after council learned of the deal. The compactor is a brand new, 2015 model at a price of $407,000. The purchase was made easier to swallow when council learned new 2016 and 2017 models range from $600,000 to $700,000.
CAO Charlie Cutforth added the projected 2016 budget surplus may cover the purchase, but the county will likely have to dip into its reserve funds should the province not hand out enough MSI (Municipal Sustainability Initiative) funding.
Schwingel and Cutforth also informed council that issues with the intersection of Highway 2A and Township Road 424 will also likely have to be dealt with and staff are talking to Alberta Transportation about it. The intersection is designated as part of the high-load corridor used by Gemini and needs to be improved at a cost of $750,000. While specifics have not been discussed as to when they may occur, Cutforth stated contributing a share to the project may be worthwhile for the county.
Council listened intently to a pair of financial requests from the Town of Rimbey and the Rimbey Historical Society, but made no commitment to either request.
Rimbey Mayor Rick Pankiw never mentioned a specific number in his plea for the county to increase its share to fund the community’s recreational facilities, as county residents make up nearly three-quarters of those using the facilities.
Pankiw came forward with figures to back up his request, including how much of a funding deficit the town faces on its recreational facilities.
“We love the partnership we have with the county and how well we work together, but we also understand the present economic situation and appreciate all of the funding support you do provide,” Pankiw explained in his presentation.
“Recreation is the number one use in town and with what is happening, the town is scared about what may not be coming through MSI. If the county can do anything at all to further close the gap on the deficit, it would be wonderful.”
Reeve Paul McLauchlin stated the county is pleased with what the town provides for services and council will see what can be done as the two municipalities continue to work together to benefit all the residents.
In addition, the Rimbey Historical Society put forth a request for $90,000 to cover the shortfall the group has in funding its new building expansion. While council was sympathetic, the response was less than lukewarm to the idea, going so far as to suggest the county could help the society with grant and other funding applications or find other funding ideas before coming back to the county to help cover the shortfall.