By Jasmine Franklin
Ponoka County council will have to dip into reserves this year to cover asphalt road-paving costs immediately needed.
“We will temporarily use our reserve funding to cover the costs that are higher than budgeted,” said Charlie Cutforth, chief administrative officer. “However, we will replenish it right away next year with either our operating budget or the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) grant.”
The Rimbey Raceway Road, also known as Elevator Road, will be the first to receive asphalt paving. A total of 3.2 kilometres is scheduled to be paved as soon as June 1 — that project alone costs around $1.5 million.
But the budgeting conflict arose about paving 9.72 kilometers of Range Road 40 — a road all councillors agreed needs immediate attention.
Council’s budget for 2010 allotted $3 million for the project considered a priority from last year’s decision. But bids came in around $3.6 million.
Not all councillors were on board with the decision to spend reserve money.
“We are essentially spending money we don’t have,” said Coun. Paul McLauchlin. “ I am convinced this is a definitely needed road but I just don’t think we should pull it off.”
In the end however, it was decided to take on the project immediately while costs are down and the money is available.
“One option is that this kind of money won’t be available next year,” Cutforth said. “With the commitment from MSI or the 2011 operating budget, the option to borrow money from reserves is not a bad one.”
Cutforth anticipates work on RR 40 could begin as early as July 1, 2010.
Traffic counts will be taken to determine which rural roads will become priority for asphalt paving.
Roads will be selected based of information on annual daily traffic, types of traffic and the impact of roads complementary to surrounding roads.
“I think it’s a good idea to have a criteria for the selection of which roads should be paved,” Cutforth said. “Determining those roads with a traffic count before the actual pavement is the way to go considering once roads are paved, that’s where everyone flocks too.”