20 years of tax increases without provincial cash: report

·2 min read

SOUTHWEST MIDDLESEX - The cost of maintaining core infrastructure in Southwest Middlesex is $4.29 million per year. That does not include municipally-owned buildings, parks, or any new future services.

To maintain that level of service without provincial or federal irregular grants that cannot be budgeted for, $4.29 million per year is needed. That means taxes would need to be raised 1.8 percent each year for 20 years for a calculated total of 38 percent.

Water rates would need to go up 2 percent for 10 years for a 28 percent total, and sewer 1.7 percent each year for 10 years.

“The real key message hear is that we cannot continue to build or add more assets without looking at how we can be proactive and maintain our current inventory efficiently,” said Psdcitywide’s consultant Mai Abdou at council’s Oct. 13 online meeting.

“It was a very sobering report,” said Deputy Mayor Marigay Wilkins.

Council unanimously adopted the draft asset management plan, with financial strategies on how to approach core services and taxes to be discussed during next budget deliberations.

Under a provincial order, all municipalities must have an core asset management plan by next year, a plan for other assets by 2024, and have a 10-year plan on what services are being kept and how they will be paid for by 2025.

Total replacement costs for core infrastructure was pegged by Abdou at $189.3 million. Half of that was for water and road networks at $64 million and $37 million respectively.

Other replacement costs calculated included buildings ($28 million), sewer ($19 million), bridges and culverts ($17 million), storm network ($13 million), vehicles ($7 million), land improvements ($2 million), machinery and equipment ($1 million).

That works out to $75,552 per household in Southwest Middlesex. Those numbers include maintenance over the life of assets.

The condition of assets were also rated on five levels from very poor to very good. Three quarters of assets were rated fair or better. Roads and land improvements were worst with both rated 39 percent poor.

“I hope eyes and ears are not left out of the equation in assessing assets,” said Mayor Allan Mayhew during the meeting.

Abdou agreed staff expertise was needed to interpret data.

“It takes some of the subjectivity out of capital planning and will really tell council where they need to put the money,” said director of operations Greg Storms.

Abdou reminded council the point of an asset management plan is to look at how assets achieve services. Examples were roads are for transportation service, while arenas and parks are for recreation and quality of life. Then staff and council need to figure what specifically is really needed or not at taxpayers’ expense.

Those 10-year plans are to be updated every five years, with quick reviews every year to make things are on track.

Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner

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