Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Township Council Budget Priorities

A few weeks ago, I went over the proposed 2013 budget for the Township of Langley. Today, I was looking over the minutes of the October 22nd Council Priorities meeting and found that Council has set the following items as their most important capital projects for the next budget cycle.

Annual Leak Detection Program - $200,000
Aldergrove Community Centre - $34.8 million
Green Parking Lot, WGC - $200,000
IT - Website Chat Tools - $12,000
IT – Seismic Upgrade - $100,000
IT – Electronic Agendas - $45,000
Land Capital Fund - $15 million

In total, Township Council has earmarked $50.4 million in what they consider priority projects. Obviously, the big ticket item that Council wants to get done is the Aldergrove Community Centre and it will certainly be one of those legacy building projects that will benefit Aldergrove for many years. Of course sometime I find that the less sexy projects get passed over in the name of these legacy-type projects. If I was on council, my priority would be to ensure that water and sewer infrastructure was in a good state of repair and could meet future needs. I’d also be looking to make sure that the Township’s parks and trail system was a priority, coupled with other pedestrian and cycling infrastructure improvements. I would ensure that the overall transportation system is running as efficiently as possible with innovative demand-management projects.

There are two projects I thought were interesting in the 2013 draft budget: Electronic Billing and an LED streetlamp trail. The LED project could result in energy and labour savings for the Township and online billing would make life easier for people that do business with the Township which is pretty much everyone in the community.

To be honest, the proposed website chat tool projects seems a bit gimmicky to me and I wonder if it will be really useful. Basically, the feature would allow Joe Citizen to chat with the Township staff online. I wonder how much staffing it would take to support this tool? I do think it is a good idea to move to an electronic agenda for council as the current paper agendas must kill a forest each year, but I wonder if this is an excuse to get councillors new iPads because electronic agendas are already available online today.

I will continue to follow the budget process in the Township as it gets closer to final adoption.

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