It seems incredible but Monday evening Yorkton Council reviewed and passed its 2013 Capital Budget.
It was not so many years ago Council fought with its budget process to the point it was well into the year of operations before a budget was passed.
The reasoning used to be that as a municipal government it was important to await the provincial and federal budgets in order to better assess revenues from those sources.
In recent years the federal government has almost completely divested itself of financing anything municipal with the exception of a few ad hoc programs, so there is little expectation of funds from that source.
The province has also worked with municipalities to create a somewhat more predictable formula of funding, so exact provincial budget numbers are less important as well.
While there is some concern about passing a budget in the summer when public attention is about as far from politics as it can get, but when looking at the capital side of things there is limited room for the public to have a significant impact.
The City and Council is working on a five-year capital plan, something now required by the province, and while one might argue the order of priorities, the things making the list ultimately have to get done. Fire trucks wear out, water retention ponds once planned must be dug, and out-dated playground equipment must be replaced.
Council is hopeful that finalizing its capital budget earlier will pay dividends, in particular in attracting some better tender results on various projects.
Certainly getting tenders is a concern in the time of a vibrant economy. The 2012 Asphalt Paving Program received only one tender (see related story this issue), as did a recent tender for work on Rae Avenue.
The 2012 Capital Budget was passed in November last year, perhaps too close to year-end to have the affect of enticing more interest in City tenders, although only time will tell in this year’s early passage makes a difference.
But ultimately what an earlier budget process should do is enhance the City’s ability to match its five-year Capital Plan to the growing and changing needs of Yorkton, as well as making it easier to lobby for government support of some of those projects with a local budget in place early.