City needs a new path for spending

Been a long time between posts, and a lot has happened.  Today I’m posting a new plan for capital spending for the City – this is my plan to pay as we go more, borrow less, and over many years, fight the infrastructure deficit in Barrie.  I’m posting this now because tonight Council is debating the growth plans, and before we launch into more growth, I think we need to a plan to “fix more of what we’ve got”.

The “infrastructure deficit” is the term for the backlog of road maintenance, pipe repairs, and other asset management work that has been deferred or otherwise not completed.   In 2014, it totals about $400M.  But the bigger problem is the gap between how much we’re spending annually (about $30M) and what we need to be spending (about $80M).

This gap can’t be made up overnight without major pressure on the tax rate, or without issuing a large amount of debt.   I’m not willing to either of those things.

What we need is to put the city on a path to a more sustainable financial future.  We can do this by taking more steps to “pay as we go” – instead of putting things on the credit card.

In January, our 2014 budget was passed, with the lowest tax increase in 14 years.  But we put more money into fixing existing infrastructure – $2.5M million more this year, and another $500,000 was added for a series of roads projects.  At this rate, it will take time to make up the funding gap, but we need to do this if we’re going to properly manage the city.

Here’s a link to my memo to Council on this, which is on the public circulation list tonight.

Memo re Funding strategy for Capital plan