Rocky View Forward discovers County debt much higher than previously thought
Persistence and deep digging by Rocky View Forward members have resulted in the County confirming long held suspicions that the amount still outstanding on the east RV infrastructure is much higher than is generally understood – more than $86 million. A far cry from the $56 million previously understood to be the County's long term debt.
In the early 2000s, the County invested heavily in east Rocky View's water/waste water infrastructure. Council argued that if they built the infrastructure enough development would occur to quickly pay for what was then a massive expenditure on Rocky View’s part. Unfortunately, that did not, and has not, happened.
As a result, the County has carried the debt for over a decade. At the rate it is being repaid, it will be at least another 20 years before the original $135.1 million cost is recouped.
The County has left the impression that this debt was all that is outstanding - this is not the case. Rocky View County’s Financial Services department has confirmed that the $56 million is only part of the total remaining debt. There is also $15.6 million that needs to be paid back into the County’s Tax Stabilization reserves and $14.7 million owing to specific developers who paid some of the initial costs on an agreement that they would be reimbursed.
Since 2013, the County has used $1 million of general tax revenues each year to speed up repayment of the long-term debt for this infrastructure. Additional tax revenue has subsidized the operating costs of the infrastructure for the last decade – a total subsidy to users of this infrastructure of about $20 million. This is over and above the carrying costs from the initial $135.1 million spent on the infrastructure.
Rocky View Forward has written to Council to express our concerns about the lack of transparency in the financing of this infrastructure and our concerns that Council may add even more to the residents’ financial burden from this infrastructure when it looks at financing options for expanding the system at its meeting in January.
We encourage all residents to send emails to Council expressing their concerns on this topic.
If you’d like more details on this issue, here’s a link to the backgrounder Rocky View Forward prepared on the topic.