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Bridges to draw heavily from city street repair funds

 

Winnipeg Budget 2020

City of Winnipeg capital budget stand pat this year; big cuts forecasted

Winnipeg’s 2020 local and regional street repair program will rise to $130 million this year, but will feel the pinch of large cuts against forecasts in 2023 and 2024. The city’s Operating and Capital budget was released today.

MHCA President Chris Lorenc said he is relieved with the budget produced for this year. He feared the local street program itself would lose up to $20 million against the forecast presented in 2019. That $20 million was the second tranche of $40 million in federal gas-tax revenues that flowed to the city as a surprise last year and was earmarked for street repairs this year.

The budget Finance Chair Scott Gillingham presented at a special meeting of Executive Policy Committee today instead shifted that $20 million gas-tax revenue to other services but held the local budget at the forecasted level with an injection of $20 million in borrowed cash.

“We recognize council’s budget working group had a hard task before it, and we appreciate the fact the local and regional street program this year sits at where it was forecasted in 2019,” Lorenc said. “Saying that, however, there is a lot of work yet to be done because the picture is not so bright in the forecast, especially for 2023 and 2024.”

The six-year forecast (2020-2025) sees a total $847 million invested in local and regional streets.

From 2020 to 2022, some $5 million will go to bridges from local and regional repair reserve account. (Last year, council changed the criteria for using the reserve, to permit bridges to draw on it.)

Then in 2023 and 2024, the bridge budget will receive $25 million in gas tax revenues originally intended for street repairs.

“We were opposed to and cautioned city council against opening the street renewal reserves – built through a dedicated 2% annual tax – to bridge work,” Lorenc said. “Now we see the significance of its impact.”

In other programs, budgets for water main renewals and sewer repair work remain at the levels forecasted in 2019. Last fall, the city administration recommended cuts to both budgets.

“The MHCA will be appearing at a series of council committee meeting and then again at council itself, to once again underscore the challenges Winnipeg faces in reaching sustainable funding levels for its streets,” Lorenc noted. “There has to be a better solution to finding stable revenue sources for the bridge repairs – the option being used now doesn’t serve bridges or streets very well.”

 


Budget by the numbers

Local and Regional Street Renewal Program 2020 vs. 2019 six-year forecast


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