By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday September 17, 2014
There’s a pothole in Hamilton’s roads budget
The city has run out of money to repair local roads.
The city relied for several years on $25 million left over from a provincial grant to deal with neighbourhood streets — but that money has been used up.
That means local roads will not be rebuilt unless they’re dug up for sewer work or already identified on a four-year-old council priority list, said engineering director Gary Moore.
Residents in Wards 1 through 8 can also lobby councillors to use area rating cash. Each of those wards has a $1.6-million annual budget, but fewer than a dozen repaving projects have used that discretionary money so far.
Moore said relying on “ad hoc, unplanned” spending for residential streets won’t work.
“We will have (local) roads go down to gravel before we get to them unless we come up with a predictable funding source,” he said after a public works meeting Monday.
He told worried councillors at the meeting there is still a budget for minor repairs like filling potholes, and “emergency failures” like sinkholes are immediately fixed — but that money is pulled out of other planned projects.
“So we have no local roads program budgeted, no maintenance program, and you’re telling me we jut sit here and let them deteriorate?” asked Councillor Scott Duvall.
Public works head Gerry Davis said ideally, the city should spend an extra $90 million a year to properly maintain all roads and bridges. He also noted council has repeatedly asked staff for near-zero budget increases in an effort to keep taxes low.
“I could move money around, but that means the main roads will suffer, and that is a concern for liability,” he said. “We know what we have to do, we just can’t do it.”
Moore told councillors he will come back with options to create a sustainable tax-supported pot of cash for local streets in time for the 2015 budget debate. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
LETTER to the EDITOR
Well done, Graeme MacKay. Hamilton now has beautiful bike lanes but no money to repair our dangerous and deplorable roads for our licensed vehicles to travel on.
Big question? What are city employees doing if there is no money to fix anything? It appears that everyone is getting well paid to work but cannot do the work because of lack of funds. If there is no money to do the work, what are the employees doing? Apparently 80 per cent of the budget is going to salaries. How does a city operate on 20 per cent funding?
Yes, we have a big problem and why are councillors spending money on things like statues and LRT issues when the city is plain broke and mismanaged? I guess the next step is filing for bankruptcy protection. It now appears to be the biggest game in town.
When is a sink hole not a sink hole? When it hasn’t sunk in yet. A big election is coming up and I sincerely hope we have the biggest turnout ever as all the good things happening in Hamilton can fall through if you cannot get to them because of burst water mains and roads with sinkholes.
Joan Campbell, Hamilton