Either your taxes go up slightly, or close to 10 years worth of work could be lost.
That was the scenario Coquitlam council was presented with Monday, as engineering staff laid out a few different options to maintain the city's close to 500 kilometres worth of roads.
One of those options was to ask for a 0.2-or 0.3-per-cent tax increase to be built into the budget to maintain the city's roadways, while ensuring that previous road work projects don't deteriorate.
"We realize there are a lot of competing needs for scarce public funds, but we feel that a modest increase in the pavement rehabilitation program will keep the city roads in good condition and allow us to maintain them at the lowest life cycle cost," said Dana Soong, Coquitlam's manager of utility programs.
Staff weren't necessarily asking for the funds Monday, but rather getting council to think about the state of the city's road networks ahead of the 2013 budgeting process this fall.
In bringing the staff report forward, Soong referenced how council voted in 2003 to institute five years worth of one-per-cent tax increases to help with paving and maintenance work. That translated into about $3.8 million worth of work on city roads annually during that time, though the 2008 economic downturn prevented the council of the day from instituting a similar program.
Now, council needs to again think about the age and condition of certain tracts of road across the city.
"Generally, roads deteriorate fairly slowly for most of their service life. After about 12 years, the deterioration of a road is much more steep," Soong said. "Generally, as pavement ages, maintenance costs increase. And if we don't treat roads in a timely manner, those maintenance costs increase exponentially."
A consultant's report came up with a set target for funding needs based on the three types of roads in the city: the major road network requires an additional $500,000 per year; the community corridor road network is in need of $700,000 and the local road network requires $1.7 million annually. All told, those numbers add up to $2.9 million per year. Outside of tax increases, the city could also look at taking money from its infrastructure reserves or casino revenues to help make up the funding gap.
"This is a great example of how it's possible to save money in the short term, but sometimes the way to save money in the long term is to spend money in the short term," Mayor Richard Stewart said.
During his presentation Monday, Soong showed photos of specific areas in the city - along United Boulevard, sections of Mariner Way, and the lower reach of Johnson Avenue - that required work. He also pointed to areas of Lougheed Highway as an example of a local roadway that is still in good condition.
"Our challenge with pavement management is to try and keep roads like Lougheed in continuously good condition," he said.