Major change to capital budget

Tonight, Council received a presentation on the proposed 2010-2014 capital budget.  Compared to the estimates provided in the 2009 capital budget for this period, approximately $273M of capital projects have been pushed beyond 2014 leaving a little over $200M in capital spending remaining.  Stating the obvious, these are tough decisions.

In the past, the current year’s capital budget met affordability criteria but subsequent year’s did not.   Rather, they are, more or less, place holders for a variety of potential capital projects but with no financing attached to them.  This has met significant criticism in the past from within and outside City Hall. 

With the determination and leadership of our City Treasurer and Chief Administrative Officer, and many hours of work by Directors and Managers, this term of Council has finally wrestled this issue to the ground. 

No longer will projects appear in the capital budget without a sustainable financing plan attached to them.   The new debt and reserve management policies being recommended by the Finance, Administration and Corporate Services Committee are a key factor in establishing this new discipline in establishing the capital budget.

The results of applying this new discipline to the capital budget will not please everyone in the community.  Key community projects that have significant public support, like the new main Library and South End Community Centre, have been pushed beyond 2014 along with many other projects.

These changes are essential.  They also signal we must start doing business differently.   This will not be easy because we will need to traverse uncharted ground.  However, like the business world, municipal governments must make changes to respond to the consequences of the economic downturn.  The good thing is that now we can move forward knowing that the investments we do make to enhance our  quality of life will be fair to existing and future taxpayers and not compromise the future financial position and prosperity of the City.

About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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2 Comments on “Major change to capital budget”

  1. Patti Maurice Says:

    I am pleased to see this fiscally responsible action. Yes, it means that things we want may not get financed for some time, but we need to apply the same prudent rules to public financing as we do to, hopefully, our personal financing. Running up credit cards for wanted but not necessarily needed items is not sustainable, and neither is placing municipal projects in a budget for which we have no idea how we are going to pay for them.

    I suggest that the next several years are going to be very rough, and so financial restraint will be one of the many things that will be absolutely critical to survival. This is a good step along the way to a more sustainable approach to municipal budgets and projects. Good work.

  2. Susan Ratcliffe Says:

    I appreciate that the city is experiencing financial difficulties along with the other levels of government. I understand the need for careful financial planning, but
    – the central library has been planned for so long, has been studied for so long, has been yearned for amongst citizens for SO long – now is the time to make it a priority. A project to bring beauty and shared knowledge space for our community. Please make it happen as soon as possible – a matching gem to the new City Hall and Market Square at the other end of Wyndham Street. Just think of the wonderful city centre we will have when it is done.
    Susan Ratcliffe

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