“We don’t have any money left”.
And with those words David Boushy is questioning where City Hall administration will get the million dollars needed to replace the boat ramps at Centennial Park and $5.3 million required to demolish the abandoned Sarnia General Hospital.
“Our biggest mistake with the boat ramps was clearing out the old before new ones were constructed” says Boushy who is hearing complaints from boaters and non-boaters alike.
“The boat ramps were supposed to be part of Centennial Park reconstruction when the project was estimated at $5 million. Now we are at $12 million and the boat ramps aren’t anywhere in sight” says Boushy.
“We spent close to $100,000.00 for a wall at City Hall, $200,000.00 for lawyers and investigators and now we need $1 million for boat ramps and $5.3 million for the hospital and we don’t have money to fix Jackson Pool” says Boushy who notes “there isn’t much news coming out of City Hall about the boat ramps”.
Boushy adds, “I don’t think the Centennial Park contractor, consultant and City administration have figured it out. There is a sizable amount needed and there is nothing from City Hall”.
Boushy says finances are a problem and he fears after more than a decade of reducing debt “the City is heading in the wrong direction”.
The City’s debt is $17 million and was scheduled to be paid off by 2020 but was extended to beyond 2030 by Council last year.
Mayor Mike Bradley says the boat ramps fit into a much bigger picture of “fiscal responsibility”. He says it is like increasing the limit on your credit card. “You don’t feel the impact until it is maxed out”.
Instead of taking on more debt to pay for boat ramps and demolish Sarnia General Bradley urged Council to reopen the Capital and Operating budgets to find the necessary money instead of going into debt. “It is easy to borrow and it is easy to spend other people’s money”. He says everything at City Hall needs to be reexamined.
Since 2013 when Margaret Misek – Evans and the current administration arrived City Hall has bulked up on staff. There are seven in IT, a deputy lawyer (a position that was previously abandoned) and a communication person who according to Boushy “pumps out feel good press releases”.
Bradley says in 2004 when the City had a massive debt he argued for fiscal discipline. “For more than a decade we’ve had that discipline. Now, it has gone out the window”.
Boushy summed it up this way. “I’ve spent a lot of years as a Councillor at City Hall and I’ve never seen anything like this. There is a different feeling inside the building”.