Enderby residents are being asked how to finance upgrades to prevent future flooding.
Public approval is required by the city to borrow up to $850,000 over 20 years for upgrades to the storm sewer upgrades. If it proceeds, the work will translate into a possible seven or eight per cent hike in taxes.
“It’s frightening to spend lots of money underground where people can’t see it but after the storms, the public recognizes there is a problem,” said Coun. Earl Shipmaker.
Storm sewers were unable to keep up with torrential rain during the summer and that led to some businesses and homes being flooded.
“It has to be done. There isn’t a choice,” said Shipmaker of the project.
As part of the $850,000, council recently approved a $241,687 contract to improve the storm sewer on Regent Avenue from Brickyard Road to the pump station.
Coun. Tundra Baird admits borrowing the funds will impact taxpayers, but she says the city has few options.
“You can wait to do it but the situation will only get worse,” said Baird.
“Things have been ignored for years.”
City officials are quick to point out that the public approval process is not about whether the project proceeds, but about how it is paid for.
“If we don’t get assent to borrow for 20 years, we will look at a five-year situation through short-term borrowing but it will be a big hit for taxpayers,” said Mayor Howie Cyr.
Preliminary figures indicate the tax increase for short-term borrowing could be 14 or 16 per cent.
Public support for the 20-year borrowing will be sought through the alternate approval process.
If 10 per cent or more of the estimated number of electors oppose the 20-year borrowing by a specific deadline, that avenue of financing cannot proceed.
A timeline for the alternate approval process has not been established yet.
Beyond the immediate $850,000, there will likely be other storm sewer improvements required in the future.
“We need to paint a clear picture of the state of our infrastructure,” said Cyr.
“Some of our stuff is in pretty rough shape. It’s something we can’t ignore.”