The cost of demolition and asbestos abatement for the former Penetanguishene Secondary School at 51 Dunlop Street, based on actual and estimated costs, will be roughly $3.15 million according to town staff, aligning with expectations previously stated.
Of the options presented to council at the committee of the whole meeting this month, staff recommended the 2020 surplus, the community development fund (CDF), and an internal loan from the hydro electric commission (HEC) reserve fund as ways to pay for the project.
Demolition and asbestos abatement are the largest slice of the cost at $1.47 million, with the town’s purchase of the property from the Simcoe County District School Board coming just shy of $1.3 million.
“Option 1, which is the staff recommendation, is to utilize multiple sources of funding within the town financials”, said treasurer Carrie Robillard, stating that if approved, the $3.15 million would “use an anticipated 2020 surplus, currently estimated at about $600,000.”
Council approved the transfer of the 2019 surplus of over $370,000 to the CDF reserve during last month’s agenda, in anticipation of funding for 51 Dunlop Street.
“Staff realized that the sale of town-owned properties, the net proceeds, are transferred into the CDF reserve,” said Robillard. “As well, anything that has been approved within the budget to be funded by the CDF reserves in the past: Cultural Alliance, physician recruitment, the virtual physician program, and the community heritage rebate program.”
Robillard further recommended utilizing recent town-owned land sale net proceeds to purchase 51 Dunlop Street.
Coincidentally, 10 minutes earlier in the meeting Coun. Debbie Levy had raised a point to clarify where the CDF stood financially, and how the money could be best used.
“I would like to add that we have a review and discussion about the CDF, which is probably bursting at the seams right now,” said Levy. “I’ve seen in the past where various directors asked for and received permission to use it as basically a slush fund for items that come in over budget, and I don’t think that’s what that fund was started for.”
Upon the breakdown for the 51 Dunlop Street demolition and asbestos abatement drawing from the CDF, Levy shared a chuckle but agreed with council’s decision on choosing staff's preferred option.
In touching upon why the other options weren’t being recommended, Robillard explained that financing the project in full using HEC reserve would deplete any remaining funds despite another internal loan for grit removal being presented, and applying for an external load debenture would increase taxes for the town.
A full list of the breakdown costs is available on the town of Penetanguishene website.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca