Is it important for taxpayers to know that their city councillors vote on proposals with clear details?
Brantford City Council voted recently on a proposal to build a Wilfrid Laurier University and YMCA recreation centre on city owned property on the south side of Colborne street.
Four important details are not known or clear:
1) Market value of the land.
2) The sale price of the land to Laurier/Y.
Can Laurier/Y afford the market value of the land? It not, will taxpayers be left absorbing the loss?
3) The “hope” that the city will mortgage its share of $5.8 million and repay the mortgage with revenues from the OLG Casino Brantford.
Is it right to put that much emphasis on “hope” when managing a city? Is it clear that the revenues from the casino will cover the mortgage payments?
4) The City of Brantford’s contribution to the project.
The proposal states that this is 5.8 million.
What is missing here is the cost to taxpayers to expropriate and demolish 41 private properties on the south side of Colborne Street. In the 2012 Operating Budget Overview, the tax supported-potential new debt for “the south side of Colborne Street” is estimated at $10 million. Taxpayers do not know the final cost of this project.
It is also not clear if $10 million includes all the costs associated with expropriation and demolition. This cost is part of the City of Brantford’s contribution.
Fuzzy math, voodoo accounting, hazy details are used to make a project look more acceptable.
Before the vote, Brantford City Council should have had the courage to ensure that the Laurier/Y proposal contained clear details. Taxpayers also deserved to hear councillors discuss those details in public.