Houston Council capital budget projects

Council discussed new expenditures in its capital budget on a March 2 budget meeting.

Council discussed new expenditures in its capital budget on a March 2 budget meeting.

Machinery Replacement

Council discussed how much to allocate towards the purchase of a new loader.

The District currently has an old Caterpillar IT24 that needs $107,636 in repairs. It has over 8,000 hours clocked, has rust on its panels and centre pins are wearing out, said engineering manager Don Hounsell, who is against repairing the machine.

“We can buy a new machine for $250,000 right now, if council were to accept it and be OK with it, I think the auction process right now is a good way to pick one up inexpensively,” said Hounsell.

Council could also buy a new machine, which would include warranty. Hounsell added this will still be within the budget.

Despite not being present, Coun. Rick Lundrigan relayed his opposition to the high budget through chief administrative officer Michael Glavin.

“He’s against this purchase,” said Glavin. “He’s willing to agree to a purchase for a used machine up to $140,000.”

Lundrigan’s comments was met with opposition from senior staff.

Engineering manager Don Hounsell said that sum will only get the District a small machine ill-fitted to their needs, and CAO Glavin does not support limiting staff’s budget.

“I have a concern with limiting staff to a particular budget,” he said. “If staff is going out researching a replacement product … if you limit it to $140,000, that really handcuffs us.”

“Do we get garbage, or better garbage?”

The residual value of the loader is $20,000, said Hounsell, citing data from Caterpillar dealer Finning.

Sidewalk replacement

Originally an operating budget item, sidewalks slid into the capital budget after the engineering manager proposed that the District replace, rather than repair, damaged sidewalks.

The District will now take out damaged sections and replace them, rather than doing patchwork as they did previously.

“I would not advocate doing what we done in the past, it’s not a very good way to do it,” said Hounsell. The District will allocate $45,000 this year and $50,000 next year on, with a goal of spending that budget on fixing as much as they can.

Hounsell mentioned that the aged infrastructure is causing the District problems such as cracking and unevenness, pointing to the Hagman Crescent sidewalks an example, which would cost over $250,000 to fix completely.

Community Hall upgrades

Council discussed the Leisure Services’ request to spend $43,000 on a new projector, screen and audio system, but ended up deciding to upgrade the audio system only.

The District currently has $23,000 in its surplus, and would have to find the extra money for these upgrades.

The initial idea was to move the projector from the arena to the community hall, which the mayor has been a proponent of.

“One of my concerns is we have the setup in that area that we rarely use and I don’t believe since the last budget, that screen has been dropped once,” said Mayor Shane Brienen.

The mayor expressed his concerns that by buying another projector, the District would have two white elephants.

“Was it determined that moving the one in the arena is not possible? Or they just didn’t figure it was and wanted new stuff?” asked Coun. Dawn Potvin.

CAO Glavin replied that it was the latter.

Glavin recommended that the projector upgrades be held off and that the audio system get upgraded, as it affects rentals of the hall.

The projected cost will be $30,000, but could be lower.