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The five most expensive capital items budgeted for 2021/22

No shortage of good ideas, just a shortage of dolla billz.

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Halifax Regional Municipality is budgeting $175 million in capital funding for the 2021/22 fiscal year. This money is different from the operating budget, which pays for the city’s ongoing operations like staff salaries and snow plowing. Capital money is a one-time or once-in-a-while expense for the big building stuff. New roads, building maintenance, upgrades to public bathrooms and the lot. Lots of cement.

As the budget process slouches forward, council will debate for hours over much more miniscule amounts of money, so it’s good to remember where the big bucks are going. These are the top five biggest capital costs HRM is budgeting for 2021/22. 

$29,350,000 for road recapitalization
Yep, the biggest price tag in HRM’s budget is roads. That includes street renewal, street resurfacing, asphalt overlays, micro surfacing, chip sealing, street planer patching, crack sealing, curb renewal, traffic calming and road safety initiatives. A lot of councillors have spent a lot of time talking about the need for increased street safety measures–but as roads already get the biggest slice of the capital budget pie, we wonder if that’s what really needs more attention. 

$26,265,000 for bus replacement
The wheels on the bus go round and round, until they don’t. And buses are expensive. This number budgets to replace 25 buses, each just over a million and 40 feet long. 

$11,990,000 for finance and HR business transformation
With an actual price tag of $26 million—it comes with $14 million carried over from last year's budget—this project will see Implementation of an SAP platform, work-speak for Systems Applications and Products in Data Processing, which essentially is software that shoops all of HRM’s internal systems into one place. A hefty project. The staff report says it’ll “support a wide range of business capabilities and transformational business process improvements for key Human Resources and Accounting, Tax & Revenue and Procurement services” that’ll impact financial things, scheduling, time reporting, procurement and employees. It’s supposed to make things easier and more efficient and increase transparency. You’ve gotta spend money to save money, as they say. 

$8 million for the Moving Forward Together plan
This is money to move forward on HRM’s redesigned transit network. It’s earmarked for more buses and on-street accessibility improvements. The overall plan is a big one, which looks to make transit better. The plan was first approved in 2014 by regional council. 

$7,940,000 or park recapitalization
This money gets funnelled into improving the quality of parks, open spaces and play experience according to HRM. Its focus is fixing up existing park areas including playgrounds, fields, courts, bridges and walkways. This is different from parkland acquisition, where HRM would buy up land for parks. That budget for this year is just under $1.5 million. 

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