Terminal project on budget after some serious massaging
I’ve decided not to include my car payment in my monthly household budget.
I’m still going to pay it, of course, but I’m going to find some other way to represent it so it’s not reflected on the monthly statement.
It’s a trick I learned from officials at the City of Guelph.
Recently we learned the much-ballyhooed intermodal transit terminal on Carden Street is still expected to come in at its budgeted cost of $8 million.
To meet this target — and take full advantage of the province and feds each chipping in one-third, or about $5.3 million total — the budget required some, ummm, massaging.
Specifically, the cost of acquiring the land on which most of the terminal will sit was removed from the project’s overall budget.
City engineer Rick Henry told me finance department staff felt it would be appropriate to remove the land acquisitions line from the terminal’s budget, since land acquisition does not qualify for provincial and federal funding under the infrastructure stimulus program.
It’s not a minor line item.
The city spent nearly $3.4 million to assemble the lands required for the terminal; including $1.875 million for the Greyhound station currently being reduced to rubble and $1.5 million for various parcels from CN.
Jim Stokes, the city’s manager of realty services, would not say recently whether land acquisition was part of the initial $8 million budget, referring my queries to finance staff.
I have not yet been able to get that answer, but in perusing our archives I came across a story from January in which Henry confirmed land acquisition was part of the overall budget as submitted to the provincial and federal governments.
During our more recent conversation, he stressed the city will complete those elements of the terminal project which qualify for upper-level funding before the Oct. 31 deadline.
“We want to leverage all of that available senior-level funding … and at the end of the day if there’s a little bit left over we have to pay, at least we will have utilized all that (provincial and federal) money,” Henry told me.
He’ll have to excuse me if I disagree $3.4 million is “a little bit.”
The transit terminal could not be built without the land on which it sits, obviously.
But assuming there is $8 million worth of work to be done on top of the $3.4 million in already-completed land acquisitions, it seems a bit disingenuous to keep referring to it as an $8 million project when the actual cost of getting it done could be nearly 50 per cent higher.