Council passes public works and transit equipment budget
On Monday night, Moose Jaw City Council passed its five-year public works and transit equipment reserve budgets and the equipment purchases scheduled for 2024. The equipment reserve budget is the funds needed for equipment purchase requests and is normally a part of budget deliberations in December. This budget was delayed due to staffing changes and an extensive review of the city's fleet. Manager of Transportation and Procurement Krysti Johre said it has been a struggle as costs to keep the fleet running continue to rise. “We’ve been grateful to work with the increases approved by council around equipment in our 2024 budget. However, that has not been a definitive solution as costs have increased in excess of 35 per cent in many cases,” said Johre. The public works department's request is for $1.4 million for 2024. This includes $135,000 for a 3/4 ton truck, $387,256 for an automated sanitation truck, $220,000 for a rubber tire backhoe and $150,000 for a self-propelled line marker. In the case of the sanitation truck, Johre said it is a newer refurbished model that they will put a bid on from a neighouring municipality. The city transit equipment requests for 2024 add up to $966,525, including $625,000 for a new conventional bus and $286,000 for two paratransit buses ($143,000 each). Johre added that the operations department will continue to get creative because it will take a while to get the equipment reserve back into a healthy state. “The recovery of the state of our equipment reserve is not an exercise that can be completed in one fiscal year. Rather, it will take our perseverance for years ahead of us it back into full health,” Johre said. “As we move forward in 2024, we will be considering preventative solutions to extend the life of our equipment such as midlife refurbishments whenever possible, and we will closely monitor replacement values on an ongoing basis and update life years based on that equipment’s ongoing cost.” Director of Financial Services Brian Acker said public works and transit equipment reserves generally take up a large portion of the equipment budget. “Certainly, the public works and transit make up a very significant portion of our overall equipment reserve. They’re about $30 million of that $60 million in equipment we have to replace, so about 50 per cent,” said Acker. The equipment purchases are funded through the city's accumulated depreciation and equipment control account balances. Acker added that because the reserve funds are invested it is accumulating interest. In 2023, the equipment reserve accumulated $2.6 million in interest, which is the equivalent of a 7.4 per cent mill rate increase. Because the depreciation and rental increases related to equipment were accounted for during budget deliberations, there will be no impact on the city's operating budget. City council also approved carry forward funding in the police building renovations capital project. During budget deliberations, a carryover of $390,139 was missed and was not included in the 2024 to 2028 capital budget.