A question and answer that came up at the last budget meeting deserves to be expanded.
In the course of budget discussion, we had finally reached the town's revenue table. I noticed rent for the hydro building was not on the list. The figure understood is $139K
I asked about that.
The treasurer responded that revenue was in Public Works Department budget. But there was none. Rent had not been paid until February and there had been expenditures.
You could say the answer took me back a bit. I asked for it to be repeated.
Residents may recall the triumphant announcement made close to the election,about the great success of leasing the hydro building to the Department of National Defence,
There was a glowing media release and commendations to the Chief Administrative Officer who concluded the lease.
The Mayor referred to it in her speech at the all-candidates meeting she attended.
You may also recall I was distinctly underwhelmed by the announcement. Considering the value of the property, I felt the rent was peanuts. The fact no jobs would derive from the deal made the prospect even less appealing.
The deal was being pushed through while an election was in process. I was supicious of the motive.
I went so far as to call the Honorable M.P. Lois Brown and seek her services to delay the Minister's signature on the lease.
The Mayor commented in a council meeting, it would be a place for "the kiddies" at the week-ends.
The building had been used by the Parks Department for the previous four years. At one point I understood from Bob Panizza, our thrice- removed municipal clerk , the space was being used to store artifacts.
A century barn which had been dismantled ,board by board, nail by nail, was stored carefully indoors in part of the building.
It was an extraordinarily fine building with an excellent yard completely secured by fence and power.
Parking lot. Landscaped. Illuminated. It had housed twenty-nine employees when hydro was in place.
If I re-call correctly it had potential of $69K in assessment and millions as a capital asset,
My preference was to sell it from the day hydro vacated . Restore opportunity for twenty- nine
unemployed to become employed. Increase the town's revenue base. Realise millions from the sale. Decrease the tax rate.
It never happened . For four years the decision was pending. Then all of a sudden, the building was tied up in a lease producing none of the above advantages.
It was said the deal protected our relations with the Queen's York Rangers .
There was never an indication our relationship with the Rangers needed any help. .
Two weeks after the lease was announced, at the time of the election and after I spoke to M.P. Brown, the former Mayor circulated an e-mail with the good news, the Minister of National Defence had signed the lease.
After that there was work going on in the building. $100K , our money, was being spent on a sprinkler system.
The barn board artifacts so carefully stored were transported equally carefully to the works yard and left out in the snow and rain.
Time went by. No sign of occupation of the building.
Last week, we learned rent did not begin until February. .
I requested a copy of the lease. At this point I understand I may not receive said copy.
Legal documents are signed by the Mayor and Clerk. The Chief Administrative Officer was credited for negotiating the lease. The town's legal department would be responsible for writing the lease.
Therefore, numbers of people have had access to the lease and its details.
Yet an elected representative of owners of the building has been denied access to the lease.
I await to be advised of the refusal in writing before determining next steps.