$67 million capital buget clears a Standing Committee – council doesn’t lay a finger on the city managers goals.

By Pepper Parr

February 11, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON.

City manager Jeff Fielding has to be a happy camper today.  Council gave him $67 million and change for the various capital projects he has on the go.  Actually he got $67,973,902.

Council like to go through these budgets and lop off a bit here and a bit there to leave the clear impression that have a grip on the spending.  Part of the budget process is to have council members send in the items they want more information on – there were 25 pages of those.  If a Council member wants then to debate the item they put it on a list.

It was the old-timers; Dennison and Taylor who came up with the questions on the capital budget.This year there were 17 items from just two council members: Dennison and Taylor of ward 3 – both whom have been on council individually for more than 20years

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison, who knows the Tyandaga part of the city very well – used to represent that part of the city – wants to see a couple of hundred million dollars home on the land. His thinking appears to be aligned with that of the city manager.

Capital projects are all those roads, buildings and vehicles the city needs to keep things moving.  At one point it looked as if Fielding was going to have an additional $10 million in savings when Jack Dennison, ward 4 came up with an idea that would have the city out of the golf  business and sell of the Tyandaga property and get a couple of hundred high-end single family dwellings built.  Dennison had figured out everything except the potential development charges but his colleagues weren’t buying it – too premature they said.

However, the writing was on the wall for Tyandaga – too many people see it as land that can be put to better use.  Dennison said there were 40 golf clubs in the area – that number seemed high – Parks and Recreation Director Chris Glenn wasn’t able to say how many golf clubs there were in the city, which seemed odd.

Sometime last year city manager fielding did say that he had some ideas about the Tyandaga property – felt there was more value for the place than the city is getting from operating a golf course.

There was a $250,000 capital expenditure related to what city hall – staff and elected council members want to do with city hall – but the lips got kind of tight when that subject came up.  Dennison wondered of part of that quarter of a million couldn’t be moved back to 2015 but Allan Magi, Executive Director of Corporate Strategic Initiatives explained that there was a report that would get produced and presented in June that would set some of the “high priorities” and “options” for the city.

Because this is a real estate matter fielding didn’t want much said by anyone to anyone.  He told Council he would get back to them with a confidential memo that would tell all – but it wouldn’t be telling all to everyone.

Get ready for some interesting ideas on a significant city hall initiative – maybe a new one.  Bet on it staying in the downtown core.

There will some of that stuff that is known to hit fans in the late Spring or early summer – which is when Council members will be gearing up their re-election campaigns.  One of the ways to deflect the details on the pier and its legal fallout would be to get all warm and fuzzy about a brand new city hall that is going to (finally) revitalize the downtown core.

Meed Ward ran a focused no-nonsense meeting.Marianne Meed Ward chaired the meeting – she runs a swift, no-nonsense meeting; this is a council member that has learned a lot in the four years she has served the city.  Much more focused when it comes to running a meeting.  As chair she gets to talk as long as she wants – and to the delight of her colleagues she has learned that 50 words can often do as much as 500 words.

 

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4 comments to $67 million capital buget clears a Standing Committee – council doesn’t lay a finger on the city managers goals.

  • Joe Real

    Roger

    Your statement of Blair being absent on the Airpark issue is totally absurd????? Ms Lancaster has been the councilor that took on this issue, clearly being fair and respectful to all parties involved. As you are aware the airpark issue is complicated loaded with many concerns, as well as to who really has jurisdiction and as you may be aware this is still going through court process. Ms. Lancaster understood all the issues on this and represented rual citizens well. Just because some folks may not like the situation, it does not mean that their councilor has not been working on their behalf. Not sure if you have spoken to the councilor. You might be surprised as how much she has done. Again well done Blair! Be careful about your statement of the councilor not being there, as it is not true.

  • Sally Thorpe

    Marianne has learned a lot, Blair no so much.

    • Joe Real

      Reality Check!

      Sally, totally disagree. Marianne sure does talk a lot, but all I hear as do many others a lot of grandstanding and unbalanced position on issues. This is not a good quality for a councilor. Must be nice to bash other councilors though. Get real! It is time to keep comments like yours in check. Ms. Lancaster represents sound thinking and leadership (and does not grandstand). Thanks for your qualities Blair!

    • Roger

      Blair was absent on the airport issue – Marianne has brought to council a sensibility that has not been there for sometimes. As for Fielding’ master plan – he is a non elected paid city employee – most of council and staff are neither transparent or accountable when it comes to expenses and taxpayer being spent

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