Just how far do some people feel the pockets of taxpayers will stretch?
Well, if you’re library CEO Rudi Denham or board chairman Greg Grondin, you must think the budgets of hard-working city families are as flexible as Gumby and Pokey.
Can you believe they came to council Monday and openly admitted the costs of moving to, and relocating in, their temporary home at Elgin Mall were unanticipated and unbudgeted?
Did you expect the books, CDs and DVDs would wander over by themselves? And the good folks at the mall would let you set up shop at no cost whatsoever? Kind of an Occupy St. Thomas?
What book did this come out of? It sure wasn’t filed under financial accountability.
Grondin went on to solicit council’s help in “supporting our efforts at cost containment.”
You’re $150,000 over budget and now coming hat in hand to ratepayers.
A bit like closing the gate after Big Red has galloped elsewhere.
Grondin went on to complain they have had to postpone furniture purchases for when they move back into their renovated digs.
“There is a chance we may not have anywhere to sit when the building opens in January.”
What’s wrong with the furniture you had? You want the best in new furnishings then you find the money and don’t put the squeeze on council and city treasurer Bill Day, who could only state the obvious — “there are questions that need to be asked and answered.”
Who were the consultants on this project, Dewey, Screwem and Howe?
Especially when Denham admits to this laugher – “He (the architect) had always assumed we would move out (to a temporary location) and we had always assumed we would stay.”
I know it’s a library, but I’m sure you’re allowed to talk (albeit in a hushed tone, thank you) about critical matters like this.
It’s a construction zone, for heaven’s sake, did you actually think you could continue to function normally in such an environment?
Excuse me, you can’t check out that book unless you wear a hard hat and safety boots.
As we understand it, the library is a city-owned building — a taxpayer asset — yet the property division at city hall was not involved in the renovation process.
Tell you what, start planning the bake sales and penny raffles because this is one unanticipated tab the city — and ultimately ratepayers — should not be stiffed with.
QUESTION OF THE WEEK
Will a certain alderman at city hall still have the use of a private box at the JLC after Monday night when council is expected to award the new transit contract to Voyageur Transportation Services?
Aboutown Urban Transit Services is the current provider and rumour has it the firm’s private enclave proved a comfortable vantage point for this particular alderman to enjoy chips and pop.
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
If you want an insight into the shape of things to come in St. Thomas, put aside a couple of hours Monday to attend the Algoma University open house at Parkside Collegiate Institute.
The plan is to renovate city-owned Wellington Street School to house an Algoma campus, which will offer students the chance to complete two years of their BA without leaving home.
It’s the brainchild of Andrew Gunn and university president Richard Myers, who will be on hand Monday for the presentation.
A couple of months ago, this corner talked with Gunn and his enthusiasm was infectious.
While the new campus will not prove to be a formidable job generator, Gunn told City Scope the project will “help give the city a shift in focus and image.”
Gunn is the trustee of the estate of long-time Aylmer resident Dorothy Palmer which will support a significant portion of the project’s capital cost.
The Palmer estate will also donate to Algoma University to help with scholarships and bursaries.
The upside of all of this, Gunn asserts, is “we’ve tried to do this in such a way so the cost to the city is bare minimum.”
Gunn and Myers teamed up in 2006 when they urged city council to deny a demolition request by the owners of Alma College and instead consider their ambitious plan for a small, liberal arts university housed at the former school for girls.
“I am completely confident if we are given the opportunity to purchase the property we will make that happen,” Gunn advised City Scope in August of that year.
Fire may have destroyed Alma a couple of years later, however it did not erase the spark of an idea that will blossom into fruition next September.
Monday’s open house at PCI begins at 7 p.m.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The biggest emotional toll was I couldn’t look after my young boys.”
Glencoe resident Lorraine Kinninmount, one of four area women who have filed multi-million dollar lawsuits against Dr. Cathy Frank, St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital and hospital CEO Paul Collins.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow @ianscityscope