City over $600,000 on Gardens renoWednesday, August 14, 2013 by: Jamie LyleThe North Bay Memorial Gardens expansion project that is currently underway has gone over budget.
The project, aiming at a completion date in time for the OHL season, requires at least an additional $600,000, this, despite numerous local politicians’ assurances that the project would cost the city taxpayers not a nickel more than $12 million.
Council, making this first expansion to their budget that was set up a mere 8 months ago, has brought a greater debt to the project and to the municipal taxpayers.
The projects financial feasibility already has a 2.50 cents ticket surcharge to help pay down the $12 million dollar debt, with some local citizens calculating optimum attendance over a 23 year period, being required to discharge the enormous sum from the taxpayers.
It is unclear if council is planning on increasing the ticket surcharge, an equivalent percentage to the current overspent debt or increase season ticket prices to help offset the rising construction costs.
Managing Director of Community Services, Peter Chirico, cites the cost overrun to the fact that the design project was launched as merely “an idea, more so than a solid set of plans at that point,” contrary to the fact they used the in-house architect of the original Garden's with a comprehensive view of what needed to be done between replacing the old with the new.
Mark King, from the Ratepayers Association, says councillors, including Head of Community Services, Councillor Dave Mendicino, as well as North Bay Mayor Al McDonald and Peter Chirico, owe taxpayers an apology, when, merely 5 months ago, they promised not to spend any more and foolishly didn't account for the complications of integrating a 50 year old structure without foreseeing issues of insulation and lead paints.
“What this all shows is really poor planning.” King says.
King is hoping the new Battalion will play 500 hockey to draw large crowds to make the surcharge payments at 2.50 on a ticket, which, as he calculates, will take 23 years of good attendance.
King also points out that council hasn't indicated how they plan on paying for this cost overrun and is “just another boondoggle, “he says, comparing the Gardens to other projects in the city that seem to run overtime in budget before getting completed.
Holding nothing back, King adds that “Now they have to figure out a way to pay for this and I think that the Mayor of this city should be held responsible.”