Editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday February 13, 2015
City passes budget that leaves little room for road repairs
Council has approved $261 million in capital spending for the year — but you have one last shot to grab a share of the asphalt.
Last-minute budget juggling means city councillors have $3 million — that’s $200,000 each — to spend fixing residential streets in each ward.
So if your street is more pothole than pavement, now’s the time to complain to your councillor.
“Compared to the overall roads budget it’s a drop in the bucket, but every little bit helps,” said Coun. Chad Collins, who added his own Ward 5 residents complained loudly about the state of local roads even before one city official warned some streets were in danger of going “down to gravel.”
The city’s capital budget is all about building, replacing and repairing — think arterial roads, bridges, buses, rec centres and affordable housing.
As usual, the lion’s share — $99 million, or about 40 per cent — will be spent on roads and bridges. But that still leaves us $120 million behind what we should be spending on needed repairs.
Council hasn’t approved a final tax levy yet, but about $44 million of the capital budget comes from taxes you pay this year. The rest of the capital cash comes from reserves, government grants, leftover project funding, development charges and debt financing.
In an effort to chip away at the infrastructure deficit, council also approved a half-percent increase to the tax levy dedicated to capital. The extra money, about $3.7 million, equates to another $15 on the average homeowner’s tax bill.
Council also approved $5 million for the capital budget Wednesday that may not be spent in 2015 — or ever. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)