St. Albert saved well over $1 million last year as capital projects finished under budget, and was able to slash a combined $11.6-million from ongoing projects.
On Feb. 20, financial services director Diane McMordie presented the capital and operating carry-forwards for 2017. Carry-forwards ensure the city has adequate funding for multi-year projects.
Along with approving the carry-forwards, city council also approved motions to uncommit just over $1.5 million on the capital side from projects that finished in 2017.
Municipal capital projects account for $1,326,100 of that, thanks to surpluses on 44 of the 66 projects that were completed last year. Seven projects ran deficits but the net total resulted in a project surplus.
Of the seven utility capital projects that closed last year, six ran surpluses and none ran deficits. The total utility capital surplus was $185,800.
McMordie said that money will go back into the funding sources it initially came from and would be available for the 2019 budget.
“That money is now available for us to allocate this year or next year,” she said.
Aside from the project surpluses on closed projects, McMordie’s department also identified ongoing projects that were able to reduce their budgets. Ultimately, council approved a municipal capital carry-forward of $129 million, which reflected a $1.2-million net budget decrease on ongoing projects, and a utility carry-forward of $84.7 million, which included a $10.4-million net budget decrease.
McMordie told council on Feb. 20 the city generally only reduces project budgets when it is confident the project will have a surplus.
“Typically, with our capital projects, we tend to not want to reduce the budget on projects until the project is actually finalized and we know what those final numbers are,” she said.
“We only like to (reduce the budget) on projects where we’re very confident that the surplus will be realized.”
On the municipal capital side, the city’s local and collector road reconstruction program saw a budget decrease of $800,000 after the city realized an overlay slated for Danforth Crescent in Deer Ridge could not be completed because the road’s structure could not handle it. The crescent is now on the list for 2018 construction.
The largest project budget decrease was on the utility capital side, where the third phase of Project 9’s north interceptor trunkline had a budget reduction of $8 million.
McMordie said the city was able to save on that project because tenders came in much lower than expected.
“We had budgeted, based on a lot of consultant work, a fair amount of money,” she said.
“It’s always nice when it comes in that way.”
Mayor Cathy Heron said it was great to see the $8-million budget decrease for Project 9 as well as a $2-million decrease for rehabilitation of the Rivercrest Lift Station.
“(We) freed that money up for other projects,” she said.
As for cost overruns, one ongoing municipal capital project that required a budget increase was the rehabilitation and expansion of the St. Albert Seniors Association building, which required an extra $100,000 after the city ran into some post-construction issues such as moisture in the building’s foundation.