District picks 2015 budget projects

The District of Houston has over $3.4 million for 2015 projects, most funded through grants, money from previous years and 2015 taxes.

The District of Houston has over $3.4 million in projects planned for 2015.

They balanced their 2015 project budget at a finance meeting March 3, and adopted a final list March 17.

Most of their projects were funded through grants, money from previous years and 2015 taxes.

The three biggest projects are $1.7 million for completing the Water Treatment Plant, $447,500 to buy a new fire truck and $275,000 for a new garbage truck.

The cost of completing the Water Treatment Plant is covered by grants, and the new equipment is paid for through reserves (money set aside).

District Chief Administrative Officer Michael Glavin says the 2007 garbage truck needs replacing as the old truck has been in repair for over 130 hours in the last two years.

Multi-Materials BC still seeking contracts with municipalities for curb-side recycling, so Glavin says they will wait until that is decided to buy a new truck.

Council has $175,000 budgeted for paving roads.

District Director of Finance William Wallace says they have a list of road repairs totalling $660,000.

They are investing $50,000 more this year than the annual $125,000 road maintenance budget.

Council budgeted $48,349 for new washrooms, picnic tables and garbage bins in Jamie Baxter Park. Of that, the District pays $23,500 from 2015 taxes, and $21,374 is carried over from the 2014 budget. The District is also seeking $12,000 in grant money for the project.

The District has $50,000 for Forest Fire Management Programs in 2015, with $40,000 expected in grants and $10,000 of 2015 tax money.

Glavin says the District discovered the need to update their program during the China Nose Wildfire where “things could have gone better.”

This year the District will also start implementing several plans completed last year.

Implementing stage one of the Age Friendly Plan is estimated at $43,400, with $5,000 from the 2015 District budget.

Wallace says the plan has detailed steps and grant options showing how the District could use $5,000 to leverage $38,400 in grants for improvements in recreation and culture, building and development, and transportation.

The first stage of the Economic Development Plan is a $41,362 project, covered entirely by money carried over from the 2013 budget. It includes developing entrepreneurship, promoting tourism, attracting investment and lobbying for broadband.

Council budgeted $30,000 of Gas Tax money for a detailed design of Highway 16 improvements through Houston. The design will enable the Ministry of Transportation to finalize the Houston-Highway 16 project.

The District will develop a Parks and Recreation Master Plan this year, estimated at $21,775, with $17,00 from Gas Tax money and $4,775 carried over from 2014.

The plan will guide future investments in parks, trails and recreational facilities, said Leisure Services Director Ryan Coltura.

Wallace says this is the last major plan to update the District’s system.

Two projects expected in 2015 are the $40,000 Asset Management Plan and developing a Geographic Information System (GIS) to link with the plan for another $40,000. There is $30,000 for each in Gas Tax money.

The Asset Management Plan is to guide council as they maintain and replace their assets and infrastructure. Provincial and federal governments now require municipalities to have an asset management plan for any major grants, and it’s expected to be mandatory within the next five years. The GIS system will link the asset plan to a map, with details about roads and infrastructure, including lifespan and estimated cost of replacement.

Council may use some of the budgeted money for public education, to show people the expenses facing the District and prepare them for how the asset plan will impact future budgets and tax rates, said Finance Director Wallace.

On the Leisure side, the District budgeted $35,000 for a pool UV system to address the bacteria issues which have closed the pool several times in the past year.

They are seeking a $30,000 grant to renovate dressing room number one at the arena.

Council budgeted $35,000 for electrical work at the arena chiller plant, which was built in the 1970s and upgraded to geothermal power in 2009.

Glavin says it has major issues with wiring and the electrical control panel and needs significant review and replacement by a consultant.

Council has allocated $15,000 to repair and brush the Bulkley River dike northwest of Sixth Street.

They have $12,500 in place for general work in parks, replacing garbage bins and picnic tables.

They have $4,000 to replace the red drapes in the Community Hall.

The District of Houston will set property tax rates at the next finance meeting on April 14.