Milton Infrastructure Renewal

November 18, 2011 by
Filed under: Development 

There’s a report being represented to Milton Town Council on Monday with the innocent title of “Capital Asset Management“. It’s an issue that municpalties sometimes ignore or set aside at the peril of their future health. Much of Milton’s infrastructure has been built up in recent years through development charges. Roads, parks, storm sewers all funded using a good portion of monies collected from developers. Our growth has been highly concentrated in the past few years. It hasn’t been gradual but rather an explosion that came after the “Big Pipe” brought both water and wastewater services to Milton. In a 3 year time period from 2007 to 2010 alone we saw some $200 million in the form of roads, buildings and wastewater infrastructure be added to the Town’s asset list. But infrastructure doesn’t last forever. What was built around the same time will also need to be renewed around the same time. Mississauga was in a similar situation years past, the city was flush with development charges and grew at a furious pace. But now they’re faced with significant assets reaching the end of their life cycle. Who will pay for the replacement costs? The tax payer will in the form of both lowered services and quickly increasing tax rates. Mississauga for many years has had lower tax rates than surrounding municpalities. But this era of low taxes for Mississauga is ending as infrastructure renewal bills start piling up and what was initially built using developer charges now needs to be replaced or rebuilt using municipal dollars.

Over the next couple years Milton has a moment in time where we can learn from the experiences other municipalities went through during their own growth. We can start to create a long-term financial plan to provide for the continued maintenance and replacement of our infrastructure. Let’s not leave crumbling assets, services and high tax rates for our children. Lets see some increased focus on what’s in the best long term interests of the town and it’s residents. When you build roads, sewers and infrastructure but don’t set aside adequate funds each year to pay for it’s eventual renewal when it’s useful life cycle ends you are creating a future hammer that’s going to come down apon the town that will force service cuts and tax increases.

The report calls for an Asset Management Project to start in 2012. This project should look further than the provincial 10 year capital plan requirements or alternatively use primarily the amortization method so reserves are set year by year regardless if the asset needs to be replaced in 10 years or more. I would have preferred if the Town started this much earlier as our growth spurt started so anything we can do to ensure this becomes a high priority and is analyzed and drafted in a prudent fashion so we can provide predictability in futue tax rates, service levels and town asset maintenance.

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