Sunday, July 16, 2006

Optimism comes with a high price tag in London Ontario

And so Londoners have every reason to be pessimistic.

Months of uncertainty and concern over the future of a North London community centre may soon be over.

But it comes with a hefty price tag -- more than double the $2.1 million the city initially planned to spend to improve the North London Optimist Community Centre.

City staff are recommending a two-year program of upgrades -- including a new roof that can handle snow loads -- that would total $4.5 million.

"I've been battling for this since Day 1 and it's finally going to be done the way the people who use it wanted it to be done," said Ward 3 Coun. Bernie MacDonald.
And what about those of us who don't use it and don't wish to pay for it? No worries, the next generation of the people can pay for it.
In a report, city staff suggest repairs and upgrades can be carried out in three phases starting with a $2.9-million roof; $500,000 for other upgrades including a new elevator and accessible restrooms; and $1.1 million for other major renovations, such as removing racquet and squash courts and converting them for other uses.

Construction would begin this November with a planned re-opening in July, 2007.

Council has already approved $2.9 million in funding and will have to approve the balance.

Staff say there's room within the city's $30-million debt limit this year to spend the $500,000 needed for the second phase.

But the $1.1 million for the third phase would need to be approved after the Nov. 13 civic election.

[..] "This is a good thing, because we really need it for our exercise, to stay healthy," said Tilly Fay, a 67-year-old rollerskater.
Lest we forget:
Council currently has a self-imposed $30 million debt cap in place for each year's budget — this means that they can add $30 million in debt each budget above and beyond any debt retirement made. Last year the city incurred $69 million in new debt after retiring $29.8 million. "Surplus" money used for debt reduction could then presumably be applied to this debt retirement, allowing an additional $8.7 million to be incurred as debt in the next budget, as long as total new debt does not exceed $30 million. "Debt reduction" then would not result, and has not in the past resulted, in reduced debt.