LETHBRIDGE: Mayor Rajko Dodic is happy Monday's federal budget included legislation to make the $2-Billion Gas Tax Fund permanent. Dodic says the direct result for the city is a predictable grant stream of about $4.8 milion dollars a year to deal with infrastructure projects.
Dodic notes, "The last capital improvement program that was passed, we had anticipated receiving that amount on a yearly basis, so we've allocated monies for such things as transit buses, the waste water treatment plant, the head-works and clarifer, bike-ways, pathways, storm sewer maintenance -- that we now know the funding will be available into the future".
The Mayor was careful to make sure that everyone understands, that although the city government put the federal money in the budget as anticipated funds, "We would never put the shovel in the ground until we actually knew the money was there".
Dodic went on to state, "We do know this government is going to be here for at least four years, so there's an element of permanency to it, that we didn't have before, when there was always a possibility of an election being called so, the predictability is excellent for the city of Lethbridge".
Dodic went on to point out the other positive aspect of the federal budget is the exceptions to the GST that the city didn't have to pay over the past five to six years has not been changed. He says, "That's worth in excess of a million dollars a yer to the city as well".
However, Dodic is also aware of the unknowns as the federal government makes about $4-Billion in cuts annually to balance its budget by 2015-2016. The mayor says, "They (federal government) had indicated there would be some programs that would not continue but, there were no details in the budget regarding which programs that might be -- so, there might be a trickle down impact". He admits it's hard to say if there will be future negative impacts on the municipality, which the local government will have to deal with.