Budget overage delays Gateway firehall project
The planned Gateway firehall has been delayed for one year, due to a $127,456 budget overage on phase two of the Plainsmen Arena redevelopment.
Airdrie City council voted in favour of delaying the project, with Alderman Allan Hunter the sole objecting voice, May 22.
City Manager Paul Schulz said firefighters will stay in their current location on Main Street.
“There are three firehalls that are operating,” he said. “I don’t think at the end of the day... service levels will change.”
The $3.6-million Plainsmen Arena project was completed in October 2011 and the City’s Financial Services department believed the project was complete and under budget.
However, in late February, staff became aware there were unpaid costs, which were found to be authorized, but not budgeted for.
Budget overages were mainly for change orders, including earth works, new interior cladding and painting of steel beams. The project had other unexpected costs, such as asbestos removal.
Cathy Wild, City spokeperson, said the municipality is now implementing new procedures to prevent similar budget overages.
Staff determined delaying the new firehall, proposed to be built in northwest Airdrie, would be the best way to pay for the shortfall.
Alderman Kelly Hegg agreed, saying council often moves money around within the budget to cover unexpected costs and new priorities.
“You always hate to hit on things like protective services, but if the services are still going to be there... I think this is the best place to (reallocate budget money).”
Alderman Glenda Alexander voted in favour of delaying the firehall, but expressed trepidation about the situation.
“It sounds like it is a good idea now, but at a later date still have to come up with the $128,000,” she said.
“I’m still kind of disappointed.”
Hunter was vehemently against taking the money from fire services, saying there were others areas the money could be gleaned from.
“I struggle taking anything away from a firehall project,” he said. “Fire services protect everyone in the community and I am not comfortable with it. To me as a citizen, it would be a concern, regardless of the reasons why.”
Alderman Fred Burley said he would support the staff recommendation.
“This went through Finance Advisory and they were 100 per cent in favour,” he said.
Schulz assured Hunter there may be an opportunity to save money on the Gateway firehall.
He added new information would be forthcoming on the project.