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Budget Notebook

Cash set aside for the arts A downtown mural that needs to be replaced has prompted city council to propose the creation of an Art in Public Places fund that would be used specifically to restore destroyed, damaged or lost property.

Cash set aside for the arts

A downtown mural that needs to be replaced has prompted city council to propose the creation of an Art in Public Places fund that would be used specifically to restore destroyed, damaged or lost property.

Three of the city’s murals are damaged beyond the scope of conservation treatment. As a result, council agreed to put $40,000 into the fund to replace a downtown mural on Perron Street.

“This is a very urgent matter,” said Coun. Carol Watamaniuk. “The artist has agreed to do it again and I really think we need to pay attention to this.”

To date, the city has done a comprehensive inventory of its 234 pieces of public art, along with their condition.

The preliminary estimate for the repair and conservation of 20 pieces of public art is $130,000.

In addition, council agreed to set aside $7,500 for Arts Days, which reported a profit last year of about $11,000.

Council also opted to designate $11,000 instead of $25,000 to begin planning for the Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Gala in April 2011. The event is expected to generate about $57,000 in revenue.

Aquatics reserve

In order to make sure taxpayers aren’t left on the hook for major repairs to swimming pools, Coun. Len Bracko would like to see the city collect reserves for an aquatics lifecycle program.

The reserve would be intended to provide enough funding to have stable resources available on an ongoing basis and prevent costly capital projects from coming forward.

“The pools will always have repairs. We need to have these reserves in place to fix those repairs,” said Bracko. “We need to fund this lifecycle reserve so it’s taken care of and not pay debt to hand down to the next generation.”

The city currently has reserves in place for other facilities, such as Servus Credit Union Place and the Arden Theatre.

Bracko originally proposed to put $225,000 in the reserve to start, but council voted for $175,000 instead.

Mayor Nolan Crouse voted against the motion, stating council would be better off adopting a long-term policy that builds reserves for the city as a whole.

Environment

It’s time to start taking the environment more seriously. At least that’s the message city council wants to get out to the public at this time.

A total of $66,300 has been moved to the funded list of the budget so the city can continue to have an environmental co-ordinator, a position approved last year, but to the surprise of some councillors, appeared on the unfunded list of the budget this year.

“I really think this position is very much needed and was very disappointed to see it was taken out of the budget,” said Watamaniuk. “I really think we need to put this person back in place and get the environment master plan going to show how serious we are about the environment.”

Outside agencies budget wishes fulfilled

Outside agencies are sure to walk away smiling after council agreed to fund virtually everything that was asked for in the proposed budget.

In order to keep the Meals on Wheels program alive and thriving, council agreed to fund the $61,300 cost of the program, using a portion of the Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) program department budget.

For years, the program has been funded by FCSS, but the province recently discovered the program contravenes a section of the FCSS regulations, meaning it would no longer be able to provide funding.

The program provides seniors in the community with at least one hot or frozen meal a day.

So far this year 6,150 hot and frozen meals have been delivered by nearly 400 volunteers.

“This is an essential day-to-day service for our seniors,” said Coun. Gareth Jones.

Operational funding of $66,000 was also approved to help with the costs of maintaining and repairing the aging St. Albert Senior Citizens’ Club building.

Funding for the St. Albert Housing Society was increased from $93,500 to $110,000, while $40,600 was allotted to the Michif Cultural and Métis Resource Institute.

The institute works to protect, preserve and promote Métis culture in St. Albert and Alberta through programs and workshops.

It currently houses a Métis Living Museum, library and craft shop featuring only local Métis and First Nations artisans.

“I have watched this organization grow and had absolutely no idea the impact that this organization would have,” said Watamaniuk. “I think it’s a very valuable resource we have in our community and a real feather in our cap we have them here.”