A decision to defer the inclusion of property funding for a community college has reduced the Town's capital budget by $3.5 million. Members of budget committee (all members of council) breezed through the review of the 2007 capital budget proposal and the 2008-2016 capital forecast at a meeting Tuesday night. Staff originally proposed a $14.2 million budget, but decisions-- to be confirmed later in the process-- reduced it to just over $10 million. In 2006, $10.4 million worth of capital works were done in Halton Hills. Mayor Rick Bonnette announced the recommendation to remove the community college proposal from the budget for the time being. "At this stage there are still a lot questions still to be asked and answered," said Bonnette, who recommended referring the project to the economic development committee to do an analysis. "And to find out what the costs are, what the benefits are and we want to see whether there is any appetite for fundraising and whether there is even any support for it out in the community." The plan was to buy a site for a college campus, which the Town would use to entice an unnamed college to set up a GTA west campus. Payment for the 10-acre 401 Corridor property would have been funded by the $1.5 million, which the Town had loaned to Region to kick-start the 401 Corridor several years (and which TransCanada Energy agreed to takeover when its power generation plant was approved in the corridor), and by a $2 million capital fundraising campaign. Also deferred was a proposed Fifth Line sidewalk in the 401 Corridor. Staff will now investigate the feasibility of installing a multi-use path instead and coordinating the installation with the Region's reconstruction of Steeles Ave. in future years.
Director of Engineering, Public Works and Building Services Rick Henry asked for the removal from the budget of an open area storage compound ($110,000) at the public works central yard. The compound cannot until the Town complies with an order to clean up the current storage area that has been contaminated with leaking fuel. That will be done this year at a cost of $386,000. The compound's construction will be moved to 2008 or 2009. Henry also warned tenders for the Main St. Georgetown reconstruction project have come in over-budget and council will have to make a decision an upcoming meeting to increase the $1.4 million budget to do the project, which is listed as the number one capital works priority by the Engineering and Public Works department. The total cost of Phase 3B of Trafalgar Rd. Sports Park has been increased to $390,000 from $315,000 to accommodate the decision to accept the $100,000 Georgetown Slopitch League donation to build a baseball diamond, instead of soccer fields. In a contentious move, the budget committee voted to add $60,000 into the capital budget
for some trail development-- no money had been set aside this year for trail development. The committee voted 6-5 to include the money, with Bonnette breaking the tie. The 2008 to 2016 capital forecast was also tentatively approved, with big budget items included such as the $8 million be added for new Georgetown branch library, road reconstruction on Queen St., Wallace St. and Wildwood Rd. and a master transportation study for Glen Williams-- all in 2008. However, staff also has a wish list for 2007 projects totaling $57.7 million-- all left unfunded. The wish list included the mundane from new office furniture and photocopier replacements to large ticket items such as road improvements, Back St. parking lot reconstruction ($300,000), arena and pool repairs, park improvements and the purchase of land ($1.6 million) for a new arena complex. Review of the operating budget, with a projected 5.3 per cent increase, begins on Jan. 29. Final council approval of both operating and apital budgets is scheduled for the February 5 meeting.