After a very lengthy discussion in council chambers last week, council has directed staff to proceed with planning on multiple capital infrastructure projects so that they will be “grant application ready” when the New Building Canada Plan is released.
“I don’t want us to miss any opportunities,” said Mayor Christina Benty. “We need to do these projects, and we need to move forward.”
It costs money to get these projects ready (for services such as preliminary designs and cost estimates), and it was decided that up to $40,000 could be drawn from reserves to cover these costs.
At an earlier meeting, council voted to allow borrowing as a potential option to leverage grant funds (with Coun. Keith Hern opposed), as the municipality will have to come up with a third of the cost on any capital project.
That discussion was reopened at this council meeting.
“We’re not in desperation mode yet,” said Hern, arguing that the Town can afford to wait until enough money is saved.
Coun. Caleb Moss agreed in theory, but said that Golden is not starting from ideal circumstances. If it takes five years to save money, then there will be a whole new list of needed infrastructure upgrades.
“If we wait, we won’t ever be able to catch up,” he said.
It was suggested by Hern that the municipality use money that is the Town’s current budget to leverage grant funds. That money, however, is budgeted for capital maintenance (for things such as sidewalk replacement and paving), and it was determined by other council members that it would not be ideal to use those funds.
“We’re asset rich, but cash poor,” said CAO Jon Wilsgard. Golden does not have a large enough tax base to pay for the projects the Town needs, so long term borrowing was suggested by staff as the best option.
That way the burden of paying back the debt would not be placed only on the current residents of Golden, but also on future residents who will also be utilizing all of the Town’s assets.
The Town of Golden’s manager of operations, Chris Cochran, has been directed to get multiple projects grant ready (based on what the expected parameters of the New Building Canada Plan will be), however that does not mean all these projects will move forward.