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


About jefflehman
Jeff Lehman is the 46th Mayor of the City of Barrie. The Ward 2 Councillor for the City of Barrie from 2006 to 2010, he was the Chairman of the Finance Committee of Council, chaired the City’s Growth Management Working Group, and created the Historic Neighbourhoods project, a new initiative to protect and revitalize Barrie’s oldest neighbourhoods. Jeff has lived in Barrie for most of his life, having grown up in Allandale and attended Barrie Central Collegiate. Jeff holds a B.A. from Queen’s University, and a Master’s Degree with first class honours from the UK’s prestigious London School of Economics. He was hired to teach at the LSE following his graduation, and lived and worked in London for two years as an academic. Since that time, as an economist, he has worked with cities across Canada to manage redevelopment and invest in their urban infrastructure. In 2005, he established the Growing By Degrees Task Force to assist in expanding university education opportunities in Barrie, and has volunteered his time with many organizations in the City. Jeff lives near Downtown Barrie with his wife, Jennifer, a part-time professor of political science, and their young daughter Cassie, who is already smarter than her father.


3 Responses to “City needs a new path for spending”
  1. Jane says:

    While I agree with you that we need stretch out what we borrow by increasing the term so we pay into the principle rather than the interest, we can easily overcome our structure deficit by focusing on needs more than wants. Such as dropping the move of lakeshore back. Which does not benefit us. All we need to be not greedy. By making the downtown and waterfront parking free it would spur much needed tourest dollars that is badly needed in this town and this would help in aiding in our structural problems.

    On top of that, making the newly acquired inisfill land solar and wind farms we can spur proper job growth in the region. Because Barrie is not yet a metropolitan hub this is very doable and legal. We cannot bank on power stream given that it is socially driven. There is an obvious conflict there. Making a new farmers market at the old Barrie event center would make this town attractive and make people want to live here.

    • Jane Blogs says:

      Wind turbines is a valuable industry to which we could exploit for the benefit of our community which is allowed in our own rural setting

  2. Darlene says:

    Thank you to the city of Barrie recycling department for adding PLASTIC BAGS to our recycling. As a family of 5 we didn’t even have a half of a bag of kitchen catcher to put out at the street. What a difference. WAY TO GO BARRIE

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