Dysart et al is introducing a new software system to help it identify which roads take priority for repairs and improvements.
The municipality’s new infrastructure committee discussed Decision Optimization Technology (DOT) during its inaugural meeting Feb. 7. The software will be used to evaluate the municipality’s roads, with engineers driving every road during the summer, according to director of public works Rob Camelon.
“It will give us a real good overview of where our network stands,” he said. “From there, we have to tell it where we want to be.”
The software is also meant to eventually replace the municipality’s roads needs study, which has been used to guide roads work since 2014. The six-year study is set to expire in 2020, Camelon said.
However, committee member and Coun. John Smith said the municipality has not kept pace with the recommended capital funding level set out in the 2014 road needs study. He said over the duration of the study, there has been a cumulative funding gap of about $1 million and the municipality needed to do more to communicate its intentions for roads.
“We either need to be candid with our property owners, our residents and say ‘sorry, we’re not going to get that done,’” Smith said. “Or we need to recognize there’s a backlog of work to be performed and we got to get the funding in to catch up.”
Committee chair Patrick Kennedy said not providing more funding to capital projects was a conscious decision to try to keep taxes down. But he added council would need to be transparent if the DOT software study recommends more funding than council is willing to provide.
“If the study comes up and says we need $1 million a year and council says ‘you know what, we can only afford $600,000 a year,’ we should be transparent about that,” Kennedy said.
Committee considers reserve funding
The infrastructure committee also considered putting money into the municipal budget for infrastructure and equipment reserves.
Camelon proposed $100,000 for an equipment reserve and $50,000 for an infrastructure reserve annually as a rough baseline for the discussion.
He said the reserves would be good to prepare for larger projects and will help the municipality have money on hand to push for grant applications.
“If we have something in an account, an infrastructure account, if we knew there was money coming down for shovel-ready projects, we can do up an RFP (request for proposal),” Camelon said. “Have it shovel ready in six months.”
Mayor Andrea Roberts said it would be a wise idea to start building up reserves, with parameters.
“The purpose of having an infrastructure committee is for that future planning,” Roberts said. “We need a safety net.”
Kennedy said the committee can make decisions on its reserve funding as it gets a better understanding of its current funding