County working on debt repayment policy
Rocky View council and staff are currently working on a policy to pay down the debt the County has incurred since 2006.
Council was presented with the County’s most recent financial report (as of March 31) on June 26 and informed that capital and operational debt is currently sitting at roughly $75 million, due mainly to the installation of water and wastewater lines in the Balzac industrial area in past years.
Barry Woods, the County’s manager of business services, said the debt will be repaid mainly through the collection of development levies and water cost contribution agreements from businesses that develop in the area and hook up to water services.
“The majority of the debt (will be) paid back by developer contributions and offsite levies,” he said.
According to Woods, the County has also taken on $659,320 in debt, on behalf of community recreation groups, for improvements to local facilities.
Woods said while council has the option to use funds from the Municipal Tax Stabilization Reserve to offset the debt, it would be better to keep the money for unexpected expenses.
“If you have a surplus, it would be better to access that reserve for future projects and requests outside the budget,” he said.
Councillors Margaret Bahcheli, Paul McLean and Lois Habberfield said they were also reluctant to use municipal reserves to offset the debt.
“Having healthy reserves indicates good planning, management and health of the organization as a whole,” said Bahcheli.
“Having reserves and not using them to pay down debt keeps us conservative,” McLean agreed, adding that council should look at using non-residential property taxes to pay down the debt. “I’d like to see more of a debt repayment policy that addresses the utilization of funds that are generated from those properties.”
Habberfield said she didn’t support using taxes to pay off debt, and the County should work on attracting business and doing better planning.
“I think we should seriously be looking at developments interested in the east Balzac area that are high water users. That would bring in a lot of money,” she said.
“I think we also need to do some planning. We should spend surplus dollars on maintenance. Let’s start spending some of that money in areas that need it. If we’ve got the money, let’s figure out a plan.”
General Manager of Corporate Services Kent Robinson said the County’s debt limit is $110 million.