Fort Erie budgets for $13-million in projects
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.