| Dec 08, 2011

Project manager to help kick-start AH township office/fire hall project.

Members of Addington Highlands Council spent almost 30 minutes at their Dec. 5 meeting talking their way to a decision about how to get a major building project underway.

Thus far the township has issued two separate “Request for Proposal” (RFP) documents for architectural services related to building a combined township office and fire hall on a piece of property that the township has purchased on Hwy. 41, just south of Northbrook.

Each time the responses that came back envisioned buildings that are larger and more expensive than the township is able to finance, leaving council unsure of how to proceed.

“I think we would be better off with a design-build model where we have one single contract, rather than getting an architect to design the building and then having to go to tender to find someone to build it,” said Reeve Henry Hogg. “With a design-build RFP we would be able to choose from a number of designs, but if we hire an architect we will be stuck with a single design.”

“I think that if you hire an architectural firm to do what is their specialty, their entire business, you will get a better product in the end,” said Councilor Tony Fritsch.

“Whatever we decide, we’d better get something going if we want to get something built,” said Deputy Reeve Bill Cox.

“I don’t have the expertise to deal with this. I think we need some help,” said Councilor Helen Yanch.

“We definitely do need some expertise to move forward with this,” said Henry Hogg.

Council decided to canvas Jewell Engineering and a number of other firms to get the best price on project management services. The project manager will then prepare an RFP for architectural or design-build services.

When contacted later by phone, Reeve Hogg said that he is hoping to get this project well underway, if not completed within the next year.

The township only has limited amounts in capital reserve funds for the project, so it will have to borrow money to complete it. There are no estimates as to the final costing for the project.

Municipal Affairs delivers ‘non’ report card

Stephen Seller, who works out of the provincial Ministry of Municipal Affairs in Kingston, brought what he called a snapshot financial report to Addington Highlands Council.

“Ultimately you folks are responsible for making financial decisions. We do this report to give you a sense of how your numbers compare to other similar townships,” he said.

Sellers explained that, using data from 2010, which he acknowledged was dated, he looked at eight different financial categories and assigned levels of risk to the township.

In most categories, Addington Highlands is facing what Sellers called “low or minimal risk”. This includes the level of debt as compared to revenue, and total reserve funds as a percentage of expenses. In one category, however, there is some concern, and that one is the percentage of tax arrears. Expressed as percentage of taxes receivable, tax arrears now stand at 23% in the township, and that number has been increasing bit by bit over the last three years.

“Tax arrears have always been in the 20% range in your township, which is pretty high, but they have gone up a bit lately, perhaps as a reflection of the overall economy, and for that reason I put you in the high risk category,” Sellers said.

“How can we address that?” asked Bill Cox.

“Some townships get aggressive with tax sales and that tends to bring the percentage down,” Sellers said.

“I don't know if that would be a great idea for us; we might be better off to try and work with people instead,” Cox said.

Strategic Planning – Before leaving, Stephen Sellers said that the ministry is available to facilitate strategic planning exercises for municipalities, as a free service.

Council expressed interest, and will likely be setting up a one-day session in the near future.

Denbigh Community Center - A new filter bed has been installed as part of the renovations to the centre. In addition, with the help of a Trillium grant, the Library will be moving over, and council approved a proposal to move the Denbigh Food Bank to the new center from its current location in the basement of the United Church.

No volunteer for housing advisory – There was a call for council members to join the Prince Edward Lennox and Addington Housing Advisory Committee. Perhaps as a reflection of the committee's bias towards the southern end of Lennox and Addington, none of the AH councilors volunteered to join the committee.


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