By Cole Parkinson
With budget season right around the corner, the Municipal District of Taber had a chance to review their Public Works Committee’s recommendations for the upcoming year.
The report included capital projects, capital equipment purchases, capital project request letters and a delegation from Rowland Farms in regard to irrigation expansion on M.D. owned property.
Capital projects within all seven M.D. divisions were listed with estimated number of weeks it would take to complete the project and each division also has several priority projects that will take precedent in the new year. The 2018 capital purchases budget looks close to where it was in the past as it currently projects to be a 2018 net capital of $2,034,000.
“I think it is right around the $2 million that we spent in the past, the ball is right within what we’ve done on a yearly basis for capital equipment,” said Brian Brewin, reeve for the M.D. of Taber, at the M.D.’s regular meeting on Nov. 28.
While the 2018 budget looks fairly similar to past years, sometime soon they will have to shell out money for some of their higher costing machines as it will be time to replace them.
When that day comes, administration says most of, if not all, of the budget will be put towards upgrading them.
“Most of these are typical expenditures that we’ve been doing. This is a pretty typical annual budget, there will be a time in the not too distant future where there will be just two or three machines on here when we start looking at replacing Cat 627 scrapers. They are $800,000 or $900,000 each so probably sometime in the next three or four years you will just see maybe a grader and two scrapers on here for a total of $2 million,” said Derrick Krizsan, CAO for the M.D. of Taber.
An issue was brought up by one councillor in relation to when they know the machines need to be replaced.
“I’m more curious about information on stuff we’re replacing. So if it’s an excavator or whatever, how many hours have they put on that last year, how many hours are currently on it. A lot of that isn’t on display here, how many kilometres are on the fire truck that needs replacing. I don’t know if they have a scoring system, I see you had one on here for capital purchases as far as looking at quotes. I was wondering if they don’t have a scoring system for items to be disposed of or replaced,” said John Turcato, councillor for Division 2.
While there may not be a scoring system in place, the M.D. does look at the machines for signs of wear and tear in order to identify when it will need to be replaced.
Some of the machines in M.D. possession may be older but they focus more on how much it has been used and not the year it was made.
“What we typically do is, just to give you a little bit of a rundown, I pulled up our annual statement from last year. We reported last year on net cost value about $21.1 million dollars worth of vehicles and machinery. Each year we review condition of that equipment as I outlined. What we look at is exactly those types of things, mileage, hours on a machine. We also consider the frequency of use, we’ve got some equipment that is quite old because it is used seasonally,” said Krizsan. “We’ve got some equipment like road graters that we are trying to cycle out because we’ve got 14, we try to do it every seven years in order to keep that inventory new. We try to cycle out those graters between 7,500 and 10,000 hours with some of them being construction graters. We also take a look at the cost of that machine, scrapers for instance one is a 1996, one is a 2002/3. We keep those longer because of the cost, they are $1 million each.”
Other recommendations for equipment ranges depending on use.
Tractors are replaced every five to seven years, two of nine mowers are replaced every year and around four half ton trucks are replaced out of the 50 in the M.D. fleet.
One of the newer purchases within the M.D. is the gravel crusher, which was an expensive buy.
Even though the expense up front was staggering, maintenance and repairs for the crusher are relatively easy day to day.
“It was about $1.7 million with the elevators and the way that those machines are built, they are built to break rocks so they are naturally robust and they’re component. So if something breaks you can bring them in, pull off a piece, put in a new one and it’s ready to go,” said Krizsan.
Although council had a chance to look over the recommendations, they were not under any urgency to accept the report at this meeting.
“We’re not really committing to anything here, these are all quotes that we are doing. I’m not sure if it were to hurt to accept the recommendations of the budget meeting,” said Brewin which council agreed with.
The M.D.’s finance meeting took place on Dec. 4 and council will take a look at budget recommendations during their meeting on Dec. 12.