Grey County may increase taxes for infrastructure needs

·2 min read

Grey County is currently facing an annual infrastructure gap of more than $15 million and is considering annual tax increases to address the issue.

County council at its meeting on June 9 received a report about its Asset Management Plan. Asset Management Coordinator Amanda Brooks delivered the report and explained that the replacement cost of all county assets is more than $1.6 billion. Based on that total, the county should be spending just over $37 million per year on capital projects to maintain its infrastructure base.

Brooks explained that the county currently spends just over $21 million per year on capital works, leaving an infrastructure gap of $15,883,091.

“Most municipalities across Canada struggle to allocate sufficient funding to replace infrastructure,” said Brooks. “Asset management is a journey, not a destination.”

In the report, county staff recommended a dedicated 1.57 per cent tax increase, which equates to a hike of $996,500, for the next 15 years to eliminate the gap.

More than half the county’s infrastructure are in roads and stormwater assets for a total of $941,139,421, bridges and culverts total $338,279,684, buildings and facilities/lands improvements total $137,825,740, machinery and equipment total $16,380,618, vehicles total $11,582,097 and housing totals $184,748,701.

Grey Highlands Deputy Mayor Akash Desai said it is time for council to make some tough decisions.

“We remain hesitant to raise taxes to fund our infrastructure deficit. We are leaving a large hill for the next generation to climb,” said Desai. “It’s high time we take asset management seriously. It’s high time we stop relying on provincial governments. I know these are unpopular decisions, but tough decisions need to be made or we can’t call ourselves leaders.”

The Blue Mountains Mayor Alar Soever said the county continues to experience rapid growth in certain areas like his municipality and the Township of Southgate. He asked how future asset growth is captured in the report.

“We’re looking quite far into the future with tax increases and replacement costs,” said Soever. “How do we factor into our asset management plan additional assets we may need to acquire?”

Director of Finance Mary Lou Spicer said the plan is a living document.

“The plan is required to be refreshed a minimum of every five years,” said Spicer. “As we acquire assets, we look at how we’re going to fund them.”

County council in committee of the whole voted to endorse the asset management plan as presented. The recommendation will come before the next regular meeting of county council for a final decision.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,

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