The County of Haliburton is considering taking on some debt to better handle road maintenance during the winter.
The county roads committee discussed the issue during a May 8 meeting. Director of public works Craig Douglas said due to the weather conditions, the county spent approximately $40,000 on patching this year up to May 1, compared to $15,000 up to May 1, 2018.
Coun. Patrick Kennedy questioned whether a new approach was necessary.
“Middle of May, we’re still driving on roads that are terrible in areas,” Kennedy said. “It’s not to blame, it’s because of lack of resources and time. Do we need to do something different?”
Douglas said the patching has put the roads department a week or two behind on other work and prompted staff to explore solutions to help with spring road maintenance.
“This year caught us off guard. What can we do for the same thing happening in the next spring? We’re doing what we can capital wise,” Douglas said. “It’s not going to be any different next year at this point.”
CAO Mike Rutter said staff are exploring borrowing money in order to help with the roads situation in the future.
“We’re looking at what some of the options are around a capital infusion which might be funded by debt and what that does to our long-term sustainability,” Rutter said. “Quite frankly, we know we need to respond more quickly.”
County treasurer Elaine Taylor said the county is considering debt capacity as it relates to a forthcoming asset management plan.
She said the county has capacity it could utilize.
“Council and staff will be weighing the options with respect to Asset Management Plan needs and the potential to utilize debt with its associated carrying costs to begin to close the infrastructure gap,” she said.
Coun. Brent Devolin said Minden Hills is having a similar conversation on infrastructure.
“Make sure there are some synergies between the county and any municipality if we’re going to embark on any of this,” he said.
Coun. Carol Moffatt said although the area municipalities are proud to have historically kept debt free, it may be time to change that.
“Time is nigh. Borrow the money, build the things, fix the things,” she said.