While Sudbury city council spends a lot of time looking for things to cut from its budget, one area that's hard to touch is the $550,000 the city spends every year on signs.

Several times in recent years, the cost of putting up new signs has influenced a decision made by city council — such as earlier this year, when lowering the residential speed limit was estimated to come with a $2.5 million bill for new signs.

"It doesn't matter about the cost ... We have to have them because of the regulation." - City operations manager Randy Halverson

"It would be horrendously expensive if we had to change the signs," Coun. Fran Caldarelli said at the time. 

City operations manager Randy Halverson said signs are one of those expenses that can't really be played with at budget time.

"It doesn't matter about the cost," he said. "We have to have them because of the regulation."

Still, Halverson says the cost of looking after the city's 21,000 signs hasn't changed much over the years. 

One thing that has changed, is the number of old signs that are re-used.

"We would take that sign blank and, if it's not damaged, we will ... cut it down and make it into a different type of sign that can be mounted on a wall. So we try to re-use the materials as much as we can," Halverson said.