The Plante administration denies it's struggling to control spending on eve of budget
MONTREAL -- As administrators with the city of Montreal prepare the budget for the next fiscal year, officials are denying reports that the city is slashing plans for necessary repairs on streets, water mains, and other infrastructure.
According to unnamed sources mentioned in an article in the Journal de Montreal, the city of Montreal spent far more than expected in 2019 on essential infrastructure.
In April the city of Montreal posted a surplus of about $213 million, but infrastructure spending was reportedly $400 million over budget.
In turn, that forced planners to abandon projects that were not urgent until the necessary funds could be found, or to sometimes do the minimum necessary for a project.
Two examples cited were the water work being done on Cote des Neiges Rd. and Peel St., which an unnamed engineer said would have to be torn up and redone in a few years.
Among those plans being delayed, according to the report, was the plan to cover part of the Ville Marie Expressway and turn it into a public square.
That tightened budget also meant that all spending was being scrutinized, including expenditures of a few thousand dollars.
But on Friday the Plante Administration said the newspaper report was wrong, even as it admitted it had to "prioritize its projects" in its three-year infrastructure plan.
Decades of underspending
In a statement, the city admitted that the number of urgent repair projects had increased considerably, blaming that on decades of municipal underspending on essential maintenance.
The city said that the demand for skilled workers was driving up the price of contracts, and so it had to prioritize essential projects.
Officials said the city was not going to increase its debt, which currently stands at roughly $5 billion. and that its infrastructure spending for the next year would be about $2 billion.
The city of Montreal will present its budget, and its latest three-year plan on infrastucture projects, on Monday, Nov. 25.