When it comes to infrastructure planning, the city’s next big move is the creation of the infrastructure deficit reserve fund.
“We’re looking at this fund to focus on core infrastructure. So that’s your hard roads, sidewalks — that type of thing,” said Mayor Deb Higgins. “Most people don’t realize we are given back those fees from the provincial government and through the Crowns.”
She said the reasons for creating the reserve is to help deal with the large amount of infrastructure deficit. Higgins said she thinks the city needs to increase the priority of core infrastructure, such as increased funding to deal with sidewalk replacement and roads.
She said the administrative initiative is to decrease $300,000 per year in SPC Franchise Fees from the operating budget. Those funds would be diverted to the infrastructure deficit reserve that would be used to participate in cost-shared programs with other levels of government. Each level of government contributes one-third of costs in any infrastructure programs.
“I don’t think there’s high expectations that the province will have infrastructure funding in its provincial budget this year. The federal government has been talking about 2014,” said Higgins. “We felt it’s time to set some money aside so when there is an opportunity to access matching dollars from the other levels of government, we’ll be ready.”
By diverting the $300,000 per year from franchise fees to the deficit reserve, over the next five years the city will have $1.5 million in the reserve. If matched by the other two levels of government, there will be potential to do $4.5 million additional core infrastructure work.
For more information, see an upcoming edition of the Times-Herald.