It’s important to remind you that any additions or deletions at this point in the process just puts them on the list. Any or all could be changed at the final run-through.
On Tuesday night, the Thorold Public Library made a presentation that asked for a decision on the fate of Chestnut Hall (parts of it are part of the Library) one way or the other, so that they could start planning the future facilities for their own establishment. There were too many unknowns for a decision, but it did result in a requested report on all prices (value of properties, cost of reconstruction and renovation, costs of building separation, etc.) associated with keeping or selling the building. It’s a step in the right direction. In the process, Councillor Handley asked that the same be done for the Community Centres.
There was a great deal of discussion that night concerning the hiring of both a Building Permit Expeditor for the purpose of attaining 10-day turnaround times, and a licensing officer for licensing multi-unit rentals (details next month). Right now they’ll be paid out of reserves, but the new hires are supposed to become revenue neutral (i.e. charges will pay for salaries). If not, it’ll be on our taxes.
Also on Tuesday, Councillor Ugulini also recommended continuing the work to the arena by budgeting another $1.2 million for the next phase. Requiring details on where the money would be spent, staff returned the next night with a list of largely fire, safety and mechanical items, some of which serve both arenas, totaling about $1 million. Council voted to go ahead, the cost of this $1 million debenture being priced at $72,300 per year for 20 years.
The operations Department’s long-awaited and long-deferred new Operations Centre came up for discussion again Wednesday evening. The plan had been down-graded from the original multi-million-dollar new build to a $1.9 million remodeling with and addition since the original plans and Councillor Longo moved to do the project this year, calling it a major requirement. The cost of the debenture would be $122,000 per year for 25 years, which would bring the Thorold part of the levy increase to 4.17%, which I figure is about $53.20 on average for next year.
Councillor Whelan agreed, saying it was a good idea while the interest rate is low. Councillor Ugulini was against it, saying two major projects are too much of a burden on the taxpayer. (I happen to believe that both should be done but if both are two expensive, put off the arena work.)
Most Councillors agreed with the motion, citing productivity, morale and health and safety issues. Councillor Handley commented that now is the time to do it because construction costs rise every year. Councillor Charron called present conditions “deplorable”. When it was explained that the Operations Centre couldn’t receive infrastructure funding because such grants were for projects used by the public, Councillor Longo suggested that it would be wiser to put off the arena then, as it might well qualify for grants.
CAO Frank Fabiano told Council that, at the end of the day, they have to move forward. He commented that their employees should be their most important asset and the City is not treating them that way. In the end, the Councillors voted unanimously to put the item on the list, with even Councillor Ugulini agreeing to put it on “for now”.
The final discussion for the week was Councillor Ugulini’s concern about dropped ice subsidies (“Every community subsidizes ice…it should be religious”) and Community Grants and the addition of user fees for youth field sports. There was talk of discussion with the TCAG about taking over pool programmes and then they tried to tackle each of the items listed. It ended up in deferrals for all items as Councillors wished to have more information about each, including what organizations had applied for grants this year.
The saga continues Wednesday, December 16 at 6:30 p.m.