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Township council gets capital projects overview

It’s a capital time for budget talk.

At a finance meeting on Jan. 19, Langley Township council went through an overview of the draft 2012 capital budget, presented by director of finance Hilary Tsikayi.

She noted the Township has tangible capital assets of $1.163 billion (as of Dec. 31, 2010) with an annual amortization of $28 million; tangible assets include such items as land and improvements, buildings, vehicles, parks infrastructure and engineering infrastructure (roads, water, sewer, stormwater).

A major project for the Township will be the Mufford overpass, for which the Township anticipates borrowing $24 million, Tsikayi noted.

In 2012, capital funding will come from such places as grants, prior year surpluses, reserves and development cost charges (DCCs); the total funding expected in 2012 is $147,165,000, or just over $147 million, according to Tsikayi’s presentation. With $31 million in placeholder amounts (for prior projects carried forward and/or future projects), that leaves just over $116 million expected in capital funds for what Township administrator Mark Bakken described as “current-year projects.”

The draft capital budget outlines several unfunded projects — whether related to parks and recreation, infrastructure, transportation, water or other — and council members must decide during budget discussions exactly which projects will be funded and which will be put off until next year.

Tsikayi pointed out the infrastructure renewal and maintenance budget for 2012 is only about $10 million.

“That’s not enough,” she told council.

“As we move forward, we need to start addressing this issue.”

Bakken agreed, noting “We are maintaining assets at best,” and that there are no funds set aside for replacing any kind of infrastructure in the future, just for maintenance.

Councillor Charlie Fox suggested the Township go paperless as a money-saving option and questioned why the improvements to Old Yale Road show up as “unfunded” in the 2012 budget package.

“This has been on the list for a long time, always in the unfunded portion,” Fox said.

“It’s got to somehow move up because of usage. Right now, it could be a test path for an automobile dealer.”

Bakken noted that part of the challenge is the fact that it is a concrete road, which is expensive to replace, as well as a heritage landmark, which means its heritage and preservation must be taken into account when planning any work.

In a nod to the provincial government’s ‘My BC Budget’ website, an online budget simulator that allows B.C. residents to try their hand at balancing the province’s budget, Councillor Michelle Sparrow questioned whether that could happen for Township residents, perhaps in the future if not this year.

“Is (a TOL budget simulator) something we could do?” Sparrow asked.

“It’s an interactive way for the public to submit their ideas ... it gives the public the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and realize that it’s not an easy job.”

Bakken said that is an idea council would have to discuss before deciding on such a move.

Council began discussing the 2012 budget Feb. 1 and public consultation is expected to happen in February and March.

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