BY RICHARD GILBERT - The 2014 Alberta budget has not allocated enough capital spending for the completion of a plan to build and modernize schools over the next three years, but the government says more money will be available as the procurement process moves forward.
“The budget has to be set during a certain period of time, but the plan is revised every year” said Parker Hogan, press secretary for Infrastructure Minister Ric McIver. “At the end of the day, whatever the dollar value is that needs to be allocated per year for schools, it will be there.”
Minister of Finance Doug Horner tabled the 2014 Alberta budget earlier this month in Edmonton.
It contains $624 million for capital spending for schools.
This includes the construction of new schools and modernization projects, modular classrooms and other renewal and maintenance efforts.
About $345 million in funding will support the government’s plan to build an additional 50 new schools and modernize 70 more by 2016. Over the next three years, the government plans to spend $1.2 billion for school construction and modernization.
However, the project has an estimated total cost of more than $2 billion.
“The difference is due to a number of factors, including the timing of putting the budget together and the timing of moving forward with the schools,” said Hogan.
“Once the requests for proposal are done, and the tenders and the decisions are made in terms of how the schools will be constructed and modernized, including project schedules, we will have a clearer picture.”
According to Hogan, the request for proposal process impacts the way money flows through the capital plan.
“When all determinations are made, money will be allocated to specific years,” he said.
“The money will be there, when it is needed to pay the bills.”
A sole bidder is currently preparing a request for proposal for the Alberta government to build schools using a public-private partnership procurement process.
Build to Learn, a consortium led by Gracorp Capital Advisors Ltd. and Bird Capital Limited Partnership, is working on detailed plans and a financial bid for designing, building, financing and maintaining 19 schools in southern and north central Alberta.