Nice work, Chatham-Kent councillors, in killing an idea that would put today’s infrastructure financing issues into the wallets of our children.
Council voted 13-5 last night against a motion that would have seen the municipality take out a loan to pay for needed increases in infrastructure finances. On Jan. 29, councillors approved a $3.75 million infusion to lifecycle infrastructure funding. It seems a number of our elected representatives didn’t like how high the resulting potential tax increase would be.
Doug Sulman led the charge to debenture the funding. Fortunately, for future taxpayers in C-K, the motion failed.
Past practice for council was to save infrastructure financing until the end of budget deliberations, and hack relentlessly to limit the tax increase. This has left the funding to maintain our roads and bridges about $19 million short of what administration says is needed.
Such actions kept past tax increases lower, especially during election years, but ultimately led to the serious underfunding of infrastructure in Chatham-Kent. Without this year’s increase, council faced the reality of having to close some of our rural bridges.
The increase in infrastructure financing represents a 3% tax increase on its own. The overall tax hike at this point in deliberations stands at 5.2% — well, 4% actually. Council will utilize a 1.2% decrease in the province’s demand for education funding to help pay for some of the infrastructure increase.
Council needed to take action on infrastructure now. And it also needed to pay for it now, not years down the road through a long-term loan.
Thumbs up to the folks around the horseshoe for making these difficult, but necessary, decisions.