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City faces growing infrastructure deficit: Wyatt

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City finance chairman Coun. Russ Wyatt said Winnipeg officials made "very tough decisions" for this year's budget.

On Wednesday, city officials will unveil the 2013 capital and operating budgets, the blueprints which detail how much Winnipeg will spend on everything from road repairs and new construction to insect control. While Wyatt has declined to say how much property taxes will rise in 2013, he said one of the greatest challenges Winnipeg faces is finding enough revenue to provide all the civic services citizens expect.

Wyatt said the city has a growing infrastructure deficit and no access to other sources of growth revenues to help balance its books.

He said Winnipeg has increased its complement of police and fire department personnel, which has added increased pressure on its overall budget.

"It's a huge challenge to find revenues and at the same time meet expectations of the services and the services we've always provided to the public," Wyatt said following an announcement on library redevelopment in St. Vital.

Earlier today, city officials announced Winnipeg will abandon plans to amalgamate the St. Vital and Windsor Park libraries. Instead, the city will spend $4 million to build a new Windsor Park Library and $1.8 million to renovate the St. Vital branch.

The 2013 capital budget will include additional funds to start its library redevelopment strategy, which calls for eight city libraries to be renovated or replaced.

The pre-budget announcement is the latest glimpse at Winnipeg's 2013 capital budget. In the past month, city officials have already announced some of Winnipeg's construction plans for 2013, including $1.1 million to complete the design of the second leg of the Southwest Transitway, $7.3 million for the first of the city's new recycling centres and $10 million to ease traffic congestion in the Polo Park area.

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Updated on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:34 PM CST: changes headline, updates with full writethru

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