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Where will the money come from to fix city streets?
Published Tuesday, November 6, 2012 12:35PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 6, 2012 12:38PM CST
The state of Saskatoon’s roads was one of the biggest issues in the recent civic election campaign, and it’s now a hot topic for Saskatoon City Council.
City administration is recommending we double the amount of money we spend on our roadways – and that’s just to get them in decent shape. But how do you pay for it? Some councilors, like Pat Lorje, say it doesn't matter; the funds need to be found, before we're back to driving on gravel.
The city's infrastructure services department says the roads are actually getting worse. Right now, the budget for roadway maintenance and repair is about $9 million a year. Rob Frank from the infrastructure department is recommending $25 million a year just to make a dent.
“We'd slowly be getting worse if we kept them at the same level as they are now. If we get to $25 million, we'll be improving the level of service of our roadways and they'll get better over time."
The condition of roadways are graded by levels. Level A is the best to level F, the worst. Saskatoon is sitting at Level E, near the worst. $25 million a year would raise them to Level B. But where does that extra $15 million a year come from?
Infrastructure Services says it's still working out a funding strategy, but it could include a tax increase specifically for roads.
The city is discussing a 0.5 per cent property tax hike, which would be about 80 cents a day for the average household, dedicated to fixing roads.
Councilor Lorje says either way, the money needs to be found. “One way or the other we're going to have to pay to repair this major asset called roads in this city."
Doubling the investment for roadways is a start. But the city says residents have to remember, fixing 3600 kilometres won't happen overnight.
Fixing Saskatoon’s bridges is also going to cost more. A report to council says maintenance on the bridges is falling behind.
The city needs to spend about $102 million over the next 20 years to keep the bridges from getting worse. That means annual contributions to bridge repair will have jump from $500,000 a year to nearly $5 million per year.