With adjustments forced by the economic downturn deepened by COVID-19, where exactly do the timelines now stand on major infrastructure projects in 2020 by the Town of Cochrane?
Town interim chief administrative officer (CAO) Drew Hyndman says the picture will become much clearer after the June 22 meeting of town council.
"We have looked at moving some capital projects from 2020 into 2021 and moving some capital projects up that were in 2021-2022 into 2020."
The town's 2020 budget approved in December 2019 allotted over $43 million in capital projects. The two largest was $19 million for the new protective services centre and $10.5 million for the new transit hub/innovation centre.
The protective service centre is scheduled to be 100 per cent financed by a debenture. $4.4 million of the hub would also be on borrowed dollars, with $6.1 million coming from GreenTRIP funding.
In early May, Mayor Jeff Genung said the town was re-evaluating its capital projects in light of the economic downturn heightened by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It had already pulled back on purchasing a $6.3 million property in the Griffin Industrial Point.
Three infrastructure projects, including the hub, has been proposed as a candidate for stimulus dollars from the Alberta government. The other includes upgrades to Railway St.. west infrastructure, estimated to cost $2.79 million, and a wastewater twinning project to Calgary.
CAO Hyndman says they anticipate hearing from the province shortly on these projects, and in the meantime, project teams continue their work. Any project approved for funding from the province must be able to put shovel in the ground in short order.
Capital projects aren't the only area where the town is making adjustments to its budget.
Hyndman says they have been asking their managers to tighten their spending as they eyeball the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the economy.
"We've requested that our managers control any of the spendings so that we can keep within the proposed budget but address any of the shortfalls that may come up," he says.
He says revenue streams changed overnight. Anticipated income from rentals of facilities disappeared. Even more concerning is the impact of the town missing its growth projections for the year. It had based its 2020 budget upon a 2.75 per cent growth that likely won't happen.
"The nature of our budget allows us to have a complete picture of COVID impacts as we're looking at 20-21 budget, which is going to be challenging because we're not going to see probably as much as when we set the budget a year ago."
An update on the town's fiscal response to the COVID-19 response is expected on the June 22 council meeting