| Jun 07, 2012

Addington Highlands Council opts to build fire hall first, office later

Councilors did not agree about when they should build what, but at their meeting in Flinton on Monday, June 4, they still set in motion a spending plan that will impact taxes for 30 years.

Armed with preliminary figures from their engineering consultant, Council was faced with a $1.8 million costing for a fire hall and township office at the site they have purchased on Hwy. 41 south of Northbrook. The alternative project would be to build only the fire hall now at a cost of $780,000, and defer the second project until later.

Either way the project will need to be financed, which will involve a special levy of $100,000 per year for 30 years to cover interest rates and/or the inevitable increase in construction costs over time.

Council levied an extra $50,000 in 2012 for this purpose, so upping that to $100,000 in 2013 and beyond will have less of an impact on future tax rates than it would otherwise.

The idea of deferring the second part of the project was put forward by Councilor Tony Fritsch.

“It costs more to borrow money than it does to save money,” he said in proposing that only the fire hall be considered by the current council.

Reeve Henry Hogg did not agree.

“Instead of having a staged process to save money, you might as well build and pay over time,” Hogg said.

Councilor Helen Yanch agreed with Reeve Hogg,

“I don't think people want us to collect money now for something in the future that another council might decide not to do,” she said.

However, Councilor Adam Snider was facing sticker shock over the $1.8 million price tag, a figure they all agreed would likely rise once the project goes to tender.

“We can't spend $1.8 million now; that's more than a township our size can handle,” said Snider.

Addington Highlands has a $2.15 million operating budget for 2012.

Deputy Mayor Bill Cox summed up the dilemma facing Council.

“Can we wait?” he said. “Yes, we can. Do we want to? I don't know.”

Helen Yanch then made a motion that Council move ahead with the entire project, but Reeve Hogg could not find a seconder for the motion.

Tony Fritsch then moved that only the fire hall portion be acted on, but that provisions for building the office portion later on be worked into the construction contract.

Fritsch's motion was seconded by Adam Snider.

Reeve Hogg asked for a recorded vote. The vote was 3-2 in favor. Fritsch, Snider and Cox voted in favor; Hogg and Yanch voted against it.

The project is not a done deal, however. Final design work must be done, a tender document prepared and bids received.

Once the real construction borrowing costs are factored in, Council will make a final decision.

$500 for motion sensors in libraries – Council agreed to spend $500 to have motion sensors installed in the Denbigh library as a security measure to protect the computer equipment. Last Saturday, the library re-opened in its new location at the Addington Highlands Community Centre – Denbigh.

No help for Skootamatta boat launch

Council finally dealt with a request for three loads of gravel from ratepayers who are offering to use their own labour to improve a boat launch on Sheldrake Bay of Skootamatta Lake.

The group has already received clearance from the MNR for their plans to bring the boat launch up to a useable standard, and are working with Quinte Conservation for approval as well. In an email to Jack Pauhl dated May 10, the group’s representative Nancy Kallina reiterated a request from February for “two loads of quarry base and one load of 5/8 inch gravel.

“Property owners will assume the cost of labour, machinery (backhoe etc.) and any other costs,” Kallina wrote.

“It is very difficult because we are not helping other people who make requests,” said Helen Yanch.

“We do maintain some roads and boat launches,” said Adam Snider.

Reeve Hogg pointed out that the situation might be different if there was no other access to Skootamatta Lake, but there are four other boat launches on the lake.

A request had been received from the group in February but it was deferred until after the budget.

“A no in February would have been better than a no now,” said Hogg. But in the end the request was still denied.


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