Updated: Oct 28, 2020
"COVID-19 Operations Borrowing Bylaw Approved $10 million on June 25, 2020
How will we pay it back?
Once we begin to recoup the deferred utility payments and property taxes, along with once again generating revenue through recreation fees, transit passes, parking fees and police-related revenues, we can begin to pay it back then get to a point where it is no longer needed. However, with COVID, there is still so much uncertainty that we don’t know how much we’ll need to use or when we’ll be able to pay it back. We are hoping the two years gives us time to figure it all out."
With the City of Red Deer approving borrowing of $10 million thru a line of credit to support operations due to complexities associated with COVID-19, one must be concerned with the above plan to repay said funds.
Revenues from the above sources will return but will undoubtedly be reduced and take some time to return to pre-COVID levels. Hoping to repay the funds in two years simply isn't good enough.
The City should immediately contact the Alberta Government in an effort to gain access to funding thru Alberta’s Recovery Plan: Creating jobs, building, diversifying. Two key areas should be addressed to benefit Red Deer residents over the long term:
1. Funding to set up long-term facilities to support those impacted by the opioid crisis. This would include drug and alcohol treatment facilities and affordable housing.
2. Funding to diversify and re-imagine our downtown core. The Alberta government is looking to promote tech jobs thru infrastructure spending and Red Deer could be a viable option for these jobs.
Lastly, the City needs to take a hard look at their budget and determine where costs can be cut, while still maintaining essential services. Additional interaction with the community to determine the needs that are most important to residents would be a good place to start.
Governments have been pushing COVID-19 as the reason they are unable to plan for the future. Speak to any business owner in town and they will tell you that they have been analyzing their plans religiously over the past months. The City needs to start doing the same.
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