Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Langley City Budget 2017 Part 2: Investing in our community’s infrastructure

Yesterday, I posted about the operating budget portion of the City of Langley’s 2017 Financial Plan. Today, I will be posting about the capital budget portion. The key objects of this year’s plan are to invest in public safety, address homelessness, improve our parks and public spaces, renew our infrastructure, and bring more positive activities to the community.

The capital budget is used to invest in longer-term infrastructure, and to pay for one-time projects. Every year, a portion of property tax revenue is placed into reserve accounts which are used to pay for capital projects in current or future years. If you live in a strata, this is like a contingency reserve fund. Like a strata, the City should know when certain infrastructure items need to be replaced. If the City hasn’t saved up enough money by the time an infrastructure item needs to be replaced, the City either needs to go into debt to pay for that replacement, or that piece of infrastructure fails and/or deteriorates.

This is not a good situation to be in. I certainly don’t want to live in a community with broken water and sewer lines, potholed-filled roads, broken sidewalks, and parks that are past their prime.

While the City has enough funds over the next few years, we don’t have enough money in the bank to replace what needs to be replaced in the medium- and long-term. A 0.5% infrastructure levy, which will generate $122,500 this year, has been added to the tax bill to help get us closer to being able to maintain and replace end-of-life infrastructure.

Besides a portion of property tax revenue that is placed into reserve accounts, the capital budget is also paid for with money from the casino, the federal government, the provincial government, TransLink, and developer cost charges.

To improve public safety, the plan proposes to invest signification dollars to make walking and cycling safer. $400,000 —the single-largest investment ever in one year— will go into traffic calming.

Around $850,000 will be invested to make walking safer and more enjoyable. Some of the key walking infrastructure items that are proposed to be funded include a new sidewalk on 46 A Avenue, and enhanced crosswalks at 208 Street/50A Avenue and 204 Street/54 Avenue.

The City will also be starting a large-scale upgrade of all streetlights to LED. In total, $300,000 will be invested for streetlights.

$200,000 will be invested into making cycling safer. In total, $9 million will be invested to make our streets better.

The 2017 financial plan will also see a record $4 million dollars be invested into improving our parks and public spaces. A few highlights include investing $1.3 million for a new youth-focused section of Penzer Park, $700,000 to upgrade the sports field at Rotary Centennial Park, and $40,000 to upgrade the lighting in Douglas Park. Our trail system will receive $430,000 worth of upgrades including new walking bridges in the floodplain. The streetscape at the front of City Hall at the corner of 204 Street and Douglas Crescent will also be receiving a $350,000 upgrade.

Around $4 million will be invested in keeping our sewer and drainage lines in a state of good repair. Around $3 million will be invested into our waterworks.

In total, City of Langley council is proposing to invest about $22 million into capital infrastructure in 2017.

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