Infrastructure tab grows
The City of Vernon’s infrastructure deficit is a staggering $78 million.
Council was told Monday that efforts are underway to replace aging roads, sidewalks and sewer lines while trying not to hit taxpayers too hard.
“The plan is trying to come up with solutions that make it more affordable,” said Michael Trickey, a consultant with Strategic Infrastructure Management.
Of that $78 million, road upgrades account for $40 million.
The asset management investment plan is based on 27,500 individual items of infrastructure.
The total replacement value is $799 million, with the average lifespan being 47 years and the remaining lifespan anticipated to be 24 years.
Council was informed the ideal budget to deal with the infrastructure deficit is $17 million a year.
“Right now, you are at the 40 per cent range of that,” said Trickey of the $6.8 million the city spends annually.
As part of the 2013 budget, a 1.9 per cent tax increase has been designated for infrastructure.
But beyond tax increases to generate the necessary funds, Trickey suggests cost controls.
Among the measures that could make infrastructure upgrades sustainable are regular maintenance, managing contingency funds, combining projects for economy of scale and building up reserves to avoid borrowing.
“You have to look at how to sharpen your pencil internally because that’s what you can control,” said Trickey.
Trickey is also urging the city to pursue federal and provincial grants for replacement works.
“There is a need for government to fund renewal,” he said.
The process looking at infrastructure will continue and council will consider a 15-year capital plan and three-year capital implementation plan in October.
“I am happy to see the information being brought forward,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.
“A lack of information means we won’t make good decisions.”