Oak Bay gets head start on public works budget

Oak Bay council gives approval to $800,000 in expenditures prior to spring budget deliberations

Capital projects in Oak Bay can get underway after early approval of some funding for things like paving and vehicle replacement.

While one resident voiced concern that staff’s  “two-page memo … is somewhat light” in relation to the $800,000 expenditures approved prior to the spring budget discussions and approval, council agreed with the precedent to get the ball rolling.

Staff noted that early approval is sought to start projects prior to the final adoption of the 2015 budget in May when the “the window of opportunity, as far as weather goes, would be passed.”

The same goes for equipment purchase and replacement, where processes required can be lengthy.

“We have to start earlier than May to get all of this equipment in place,” said Patricia Walker, municipal treasurer.

The largest of the capital projects was pavement management at $250,000, the same as approved early last year.

The 2015 water and sewer rates have been adopted and therefore the funding for the capital projects covered by the water rates is in place, and the sewer rates will cover 70 per cent of the cost of the sewer projects (the remainder of the funding comes from taxes). The equipment purchases will be covered by funds accumulated in the equipment replacement fund, and their approval will have no tax impact.

The largest of the capital projects listed above that will be funded by taxes is the pavement management program. Given the state of the roads, and the recommendations made by the consultant who carried out the review of them, the money included in the budget is the minimum needed to avoid larger costs in the future. If council chooses to delay approving the project until after the full budget has been reviewed, the result will be similar to 2013 (the first year of the program) when staff had to work hard to get the necessary tendering process completed in time to have the paving work done in August.

Coun. Michelle Kirby chaired the Jan. 12 meeting as Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen was in the Lower Mainland meeting with the province and Union of B.C. Municipalities to talk about deer management.