Halifax council asks staff for changes to proposed capital budget

The list of projects on the proposed capital budget focuses on repairs and safety issues, but the proposal leaves $21 million worth of projects out of the mix for at least three years.

Current proposal leaves $21M worth of projects out of the mix for at least 3 years

The list of projects on the proposed capital budgets for the next three years focus on repairs and safety issues. (Robert Short/CBC)

Halifax regional council has asked finance staff to reconsider the proposed capital budget for the next three years.

In December 2018, managers recommended $144.8 million for 2019-2020, $145.7 million for 2020-2021 and $141 million for 2021-2022.

The list of projects on the proposed capital budget focuses on repairs and safety issues, but the proposal leaves $21 million worth of projects out of the mix for at least three years.

These projects include renovations to the Dartmouth North and Halifax Memorial libraries, bus lanes for Robie Street and Bayers Road, and new fare technology for the transit system.

"We will be stuck with the supersized transit tickets," said Coun. Sam Austin.

'A system failure'

Coun. Waye Mason was also upset.

"Simply put, I feel we have a system failure and council and public trust is impaired," he said.

A few councillors warned against reconsidering the list of projects.

"Unless we can find some money somewhere, we'll be upping the taxes," said Coun. Russell Walker.

"Spoiler alert, I won't be supporting the B list or a tax increase," said Coun. Matt Whitman.

New proposal expected before the end of the month

But Mayor Mike Savage supported taking a second look at the capital budget.

Savage pointed out the final tally for this year's deed transfer tax is not yet in and property assessments are higher than expected.

"That's for both residential and commercial, so that's more revenue," he said.

Finance officials also said borrowing more money or taking more money from reserves are also options. They plan to bring back a new proposal by the end of January.

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About the Author

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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