High River Town Council has passed an interim budget of just over $28 million, which is 90 per cent of the budget for 2019, so they can keep the lights on and pay staff while they debate the final details of the 2019 budget document.

Mayor Craig Snodgrass says there are three big budget items they need to plan for.

"We have been going back and forth with some budget discussions," said Snodgrass. "And there are a few items on there that are absolutely critical that we have all the information on as to how we are going to make decisions."

First up is the swimming pool and Snodgrass says Council is debating pulling the trigger on spending $23 million on building a new one.

He adds there are two long-term big projects they need to start planning for.

"One being the waste water treatment facility for the Town of High River out by Cargill, and the other is just the water treatment facility. Alberta Environment is imposing upgrades to both of those facilities at a certain timeline. They are not today but they are in the next number of years."

It is estimated the waste water facility will cost $40 million and the water treatment will cost about $25 million.

The big one is the swimming pool though as there is no current provincial or federal grants for new pools.

'Twenty-three million is all on the Town of High River. You might get the odd grant for fluff but that is about it."

He adds you can't fundraise for the capital costs of building the pool.

"You fundraise for all the bells and whistles. Just like the field house the fundraising and the Cargill sponsorship and all that stuff did not build the field house it gave us all the nice things inside the fieldhouse."

The capital costs to build it comes from the taxpayers and if they go ahead with it there will be an extra $500,000 or more to operate the pool every year.

"It's not just go borrow the money. It's how are you going to pay for these things."

Snodgrass adds the final debate on the budget will go well into January.

 

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