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City Council Highlights - September 26, 2016

By City Staff


Listened to a presentation by the City Engineer regarding 2016/2017 Sarnia State of the Infrastructure and Asset Management Update.

  • Achievements include a significant increase in capital spending over the last decade, leveraging approximately $70 million in federal and provincial funding over the last 12 years, as well as building the City’s own capital contributions to $22 million in 2017. Major efforts have included sewer separation, water, sewage, and road projects with measureable achievements. Millions of dollars saved through collaboration with our neighbouring municipality, St. Clair Township, and Lambton Area Water Supply System.
  • There are several proposed capital projects for 2017 in roads, water, transit, sewer, parks and recreation facilities, and fire apparatus.
  • $235,803,011 is the value of total linear infrastructure replacement needed as of 2016. This figure increases annually as backlog accumulates without sufficient annual capital dollars.  
  • $40.6 million was needed for 2016 linear infrastructure. $10.3 million was budgeted for 2016 linear infrastructure.
  • Challenges include not fully addressing the current needs and accumulated backlog which rapidly decreases the condition of our assets and level of service to customers:  
    • Actual capital budget requirements are much higher than the proposed capital project plan.
    • It is unsustainable to increase the backlog of linear infrastructure.
  • Proposed plan to move forward includes:
    • Extending the current asset management plan to include all infrastructure.
    • Engaging Council in discussions on scope and level of service and future of the City’s assets.
    • Bringing forward alternative funding strategies.
  • $2 billion would be required to replace every asset. The accepted rule is a capital program of 2-4% per year or $40 million per year.
  • Staff to come back to Council with a work plan with options to engage council on prioritization for asset management as well as scope and level of service and future of city-owned assets.


Listened to a presentation by the Director of Finance on the 2017 Budget Direction.

  • Sarnia experienced a 3.6% population growth between 2006-2011.
  • Sarnia’s residential tax rate increased from $1,427 to $1,521, per $100,000, between 2013-2016.
  • As the City of Sarnia’s debt levels drop, operating revenue that previously went to debt payments has been redistributed to reserves to help fund infrastructure renewal.
  • Sarnia’s average municipal debt per household is low, compared to similar-sized cities, at $720.
  • Total Debt has decreased from a high of $95.5 Million in 2003 to projected 2017 year end balance of $12.5 Million.
  • Sarnia reserves and reserve funds have increased from $20,162,482 in 2009 to $29,800,680 in 2015; most of annual reserve contributions are spent on capital infrastructure projects.
  • Average municipal reserves per household is low, compared to similar-sized cities, at $762.
  • Reserve and reserve funds have been funded by the revenue budget, operating budget, transit budget, water budget, sewer budget, senior government restricted grants and direct revenues.
  • Reserves and reserve funds have been used for the capital budget, capital programs, and contributions to the operating budget.
  • Staff have identified pressure items during preliminary stages of Draft 2017 Budget preparation.
  • 2017 key expense pressures include contractual and current obligation, electricity, reserve contribution increase, and the showmobile replacement.


Update report from the City Manager on the Attrition Program.

  • Number of full-time employees decreased from 424 in 2015 to 421 in 2016.
  • Number of permanent part-time, contract, and seasonal employees has increased by 1 full-time equivalent in 2016. 1 full-time administrative position was eliminated in the Parks and Recreation Department, to be replaced with 2 seasonal staff and 2 seasonal lifeguard positions in 2017.
  • Finance department saw an increase in 1 full-time employee in 2016.
  • Fire department saw a decrease in 2 full-time employees in 2016.
  • City of Sarnia has 7.89 full-time staff per 1,000 residents, a number comparable to similar-sized municipalities.

This article was posted Monday, September 26, 2016 5:11 PM

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