St. Albert city council is being tasked with deciding what to do with an estimated $4.58 million 2023 budget surplus this week, while also receiving an update on a potentially $60 million or more servicing project in the city's northeast.
The estimated 2023 surplus of $4.58 million, according to the city's fourth quarter report published on Friday, is a result of numerous factors, including significant savings from low fuel prices, better than expected revenue from public transit and recreation passes, and more than budgeted for revenue from the city's investment portfolio.
A report to council written by a manager of financial planning for the city, Brenda Barclay, says administration is recommending council evenly split the surplus into two separate city reserves.
If administration's recommendation is approved by council, about $2.29 million will be transferred to both the capital reserve, which is used for a myriad of projects and capital expenditures, and the municipal land and facilities reserve, which is used to purchase land, refurbish city facilities, and develop city-owned commercial land.
Council will discuss and decide the fate of the surplus on Tuesday morning.
Northeast servicing project update
On Tuesday city council is also scheduled to receive an update on the Northeast Servicing project, which could cost more than $60 million.
The project, which actually covers three separate but related projects, will address the stormwater, sewage, and water infrastructure capacity constraints in the city's northeast (Erin Ridge North, Oakmont) that resulted in an administrative hold being implemented in late 2022 to stop further development except on a case-by-case basis.
“Without investment in this infrastructure, a significant area of the city will not be able to proceed with development,” reads a new report to council about the project.
The project first came to council's attention in May of 2022, when administration brought forward a $2 million funding request, which council approved, to complete the design work for all three projects.
A report to council at the time explains that continued development in Erin Ridge North and Jensen Lakes lead to the existing sewage and stormwater infrastructure to operate over capacity.
“With each additional development that is added to infrastructure that is operating beyond its capacity there is an increasing risk that homes in Erin Ridge and Oakmont will experience basement flooding,” the report reads.
Dog beach remediation
A significantly less expensive project being presented to council tomorrow is some remediation work for the Lacombe Park Lake dog water access spot, which is known as the dog beach.
Manda Wilde, the city's supervisor of parks planning and stewardship, as well as city parks planning specialist Tara Feser, have a report to council explaining that the heavy use of the dog beach in the warm months has caused “significant erosion” of the shoreline and increased lake sedimentation.
The sedimentation “contributes to algal blooms including blue-green algae, which is toxic to humans and dogs and results in closing the lake and access area when algal are present.”
Read more: Blue-green algae found in Lacombe Lake: City
To try and address the shoreline erosion and lake sedimentation, Wilde and Feser have requested council's approval on $150,000 in dog license reserve funding to install a concrete slab water access at the dog beach, as well as some vegetated riprap on the affected shoreline.