Friendly Update, City Hall: Hey Guys, I Totally Shot My Mouth Off Yesterday And COMPLETELY SCREWED EVERYTHING UP!!

This Week at City HallWellllll… looks like I got a little carried away with the Cisk beer yesterday. Remember when I said that, based on the Regina Budget Highlights document, the road renewal budget for 2015 was $19.8 million and that that’s only a $100 thousand increase over 2014?

Yeah. That wasn’t right. That wasn’t right at all. Stupid me, relying on the Highlights document to fully reflect what’s in the budget.

Like I said, I didn’t read the actual budget. I was just riffing on what I’d read in that damned Highlights document. Well, today I thought, what the hell, I’ll take a closer look at some other stuff. And, lo and behold, I discovered that the Road Renewal budget isn’t $19.8 million.

It’s $21.7 million. And that’s a $2 million boost to their budget. That’s a SUBSTANTIAL increase. Close to the record boost the department received back in 2008.

See, you can read it for yourself in the actual budget…

roadrenewalREALnumber

Seems that dedicated one per cent mill rate bump is in fact cumulative with last year’s mill rate bump. And I’m an asshole for having said otherwise.

roadrenewalREALnumber02

So there you go. That’s what happens when you only read the promo lit the city puts out and the media coverage online and then jump to a bunch of conclusions without reading the budget itself.

I screwed up. I’m the jerk. Next year I’ll do the live-tweet read-through before shooting my mouth off.

That said, I’m not going to take back anything I wrote yesterday because that’d be dishonest. I’ll leave that post up there to keep me humble.

And I do apologize unreservedly to City Manager Glen Davies, City Council and anybody else at City Hall who may have read that stupid, stupid post and felt offended.

This is for you…

eggonmyface

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5'10'' tall and he was born in a place. He's not there now. He's sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It's "Girl From Ipanema", thanks for asking. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

8 thoughts on “Friendly Update, City Hall: Hey Guys, I Totally Shot My Mouth Off Yesterday And COMPLETELY SCREWED EVERYTHING UP!!”

  1. It’s still pretty much a drop in the bucket, isn’t it? What’s the estimated backlog on road work in Regina? $260 million, I think it is, with that forecast to grow to $530 million in the next 15 years. And most of the current $21 million is still going to have to be directed to the 20 per cent of the road network that carries most of the traffic, which doesn’t leave a lot for the residential roads that a 2013 report identified as being in the worst shape.

  2. Hi Paul
    Here is a link to the City’s report on residential road renewal (pw14-15, starts on page 264). It’s an interesting read and speaks to the science of infrastructure renewal:

    http://regina.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/cache/2/xkof4blpzxq5mwxbgwnqzrxp/11436012172014100940883.PDF

    Our Civic Engineers predict that at pre dedicated-tax levels of investment, 68% of Regina’s residential street would be in ‘poor’ condition within 25 years (All Regina roads hold a rating of ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘fair’, or ‘poor’. Currently 18% of our roads are considered ‘poor’). With the dedicated tax (1% a year cumulatively for 5 years) we can start to very slowly ebb the tide of residential road repair, ensuring 85% percent of our roads are in at least ‘fair’ condition within the next 15 years.

    Much like brushing your teeth, it turns out that it’s a lot cheaper to look after roads than having to do major repairs later on. There is still a lot of infrastructure debt in Regina (think bridges, pipes, transit yard, maintenance buildings, rec facilities, etc) that ours and future generations are going to have to deal with but this is a small step in the right direction.

  3. Well done, Paul!

    Does anyone ever talk about taking streets and roads out of commission? Because I’d really like to do that on our block. There’s no real need for a paved street. It could be a one-way gravel path for service vehicles and the rest could be community garden.

  4. Shawn: your link doesn’t work. The website does stuff that screws up the URL in the address bar. You need to go back to the email or page that linked you to the document, right-click on that link and choose “Copy Link Location”.

  5. Excellent retraction Paul!

    I have an additional nit-picky comment about your use of MPI to gauge whether the increase in road repair budget is an expansion or contraction of the program. MPI is an indicator that reflects the price increase in a typical municipal basket of goods. As long as the basket is a good approximation of the costs actually incurred by the city, it can be used to determine whether the budget as a whole reflects an expansion or contraction of services. However, the elements that make up an individual program are unlikely to be well represented by the MPI basket. As such, it is probably inappropriate to use MPI to determine whether this budget increase reflects an expansion of the road repair program. Road repairs in particular are far more sensitive to oil price than the MPI is.

    I don’t think I’ve explained it very well, so let’s use CPI as an example. Say I’m Joe Average and my spending breakdown is accurately represented by the CPI basket. Between October 2013 and October 2014, CPI has increased 2.4%. If my budget hasn’t increased by 2.4% since October 2013, then I’ve had an effective contraction of spending: I get less stuff. To avoid that, I increase my budget by 2.4% across the board. At the end of the month, though, I’m surprised to find that I’ve had to cut down on smoking and drinking. Even though my budget for booze and smokes have kept pace with CPI, I’ve had an effective cut to my booze-and-smokes “program” because booze-and-smoke prices have increased by 5.8%. By using an inappropriate index to judge my booze-and-smokes spending, I mistook an effective cut for status quo spending.

    So, there’s my bit about how MPI is inappropriate to judge the road repair program (though it is, of course, better than using nominal dollars). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good Canadian index to use (here’s a good Australian one though: http://www.bitre.gov.au/publications/2014/is_064.aspx).

    For CPI values, I used this: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/cpis01a-eng.htm

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