Fort Erie bud­gets for $13-mil­lion in projects

The Niagara Falls Review - - NEWS - KRIS DUBE

Fort Erie town coun­cil has started the process of de­ter­min­ing how it will spend lo­cal tax dol­lars by comb­ing through a list of 72 projects that will cost a to­tal of nearly $13 mil­lion.

Up for fi­nal ap­proval with the op­er­at­ing bud­get in Fe­bru­ary, lo­cal coun­cil and staff spent twoand-a-half hours last Wed­nes­day dis­cussing ev­ery line item up for con­sid­er­a­tion.

The pre­lim­i­nary cap­i­tal bud­get of $3.67 mil­lion is funded from De­cem­ber 2017 re­serve fund bal­ances and will be rec­om­mended for by­law on Nov. 27.

The gen­eral cap­i­tal bud­get, cur­rently at $12,797,570, is used where ex­ist­ing re­serve fund bal­ances are not suf­fi­cient to sup­port the rec­om­mended cap­i­tal pro­gram and re­quires 2018 gen­eral levy base or in­cre­men­tal fund­ing – the rea­son that an ap­proval will de­ferred un­til the re­view of the 2018 op­er­at­ing bud­get, says the re­port ap­proved by coun­cil last week.

Some of the larger ex­pen­di­tures in in­fra­struc­ture ser­vices in­clude $1.3 mil­lion for road resur­fac­ing, $488,000 for the re­place­ment of a water­main on Crys­tal Beach Drive, part of a to­tal of $3.7 mil­lion on road work around Greater Fort Erie.

Coun­cil has also en­dorsed mov­ing ahead with a $1.12 mil­lion trench­less re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the Nigh Road sew­ers, one of many un­der­ground projects set to take place in 2018.

Ward 4 Coun. Ma­rina But­ler said her con­stituents on North Mill Street in Ridge­way have been wait­ing too long for a water­main re­place­ment in their area, work that has been pri­or­i­tized and moved ahead four years to this year’s bud­get.

“The work will be ex­tremely costly, but needed,” said But­ler of the $203,000 project.

One bud­get item that drew some dis­cus­sion was the po­ten­tial ex­pen­di­ture of $100,000 for a gate­way fea­ture, a vis­i­ble wel­com­ing for peo­ple vis­it­ing Fort Erie.

The ma­jor­ity of coun­cil spoke in favour of the con­cept, but want to see more lo­cal in­volve­ment and were re­luc­tant to sup­port the project if it moves ahead with the cur­rently rec­om­mended lo­ca­tion.

The On­tario Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion has said the elab­o­rate sig­nage should be placed on High­way 3 at Town­line Road, near the Fort Erie-Port Col­borne bor­der.

Coun­cil­lors feel it should be placed at Sodom Road along the Queen El­iz­a­beth Way and chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer Tom Kuchyt said he will take the con­cerns shared at last week’s meet­ing to the prov­ince about the pro­posed gate­way’s place­ment.

“We’ll keep this in mind and see if they are re­cep­tive to us mov­ing it to an­other lo­ca­tion,” said Kuchyt.

Mayor Wayne Redekop said he would like to see a con­test be­tween lo­cal graphic de­sign­ers be con­nected to the fi­nal prod­uct and that he is be­fud­dled by the min­istry’s stance that it can’t be erected at Sodom Road.

“I can’t un­der­stand what the pos­si­ble prob­lem could be,” said Redekop, also point­ing out that Sodom Road is 1.3 kilo­me­tres inside the Fort Erie bound­ary from Ni­a­gara Falls.

A to­tal of $291,000 on new ve­hi­cles, $234,000 for new equip­ment for the Fort Erie fire depart­ment, $120,000 for struc­tural re­pairs to the cen­ten­nial branch of the pub­lic li­brary, $750,000 for im­prove­ments to Crys­tal Ridge Park, $545,000 for bridge and cul­vert re­place­ments, $200,000 on side­walk re­pairs, and much more will be up for fi­nal ap­proval later in the process.

The fi­nal date for ap­proval, if re­quired, is set for Jan. 31, 2018. The gen­eral levy bud­get will be brought to coun­cil for by­law ap­proval on Feb. 26.

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