The staff have had their final say on the design of their new offices, the trees have been smashed down and carted away, the perimeter fence is up, and the foundation hole is dug, but the citizens of Haldimand County are still as much in the dark as ever about the financial case for their new Central Administration Building.

When in November 2015 staff presented County Council with three options for providing them with suitable accommodations, they claimed that a brand-new building would cost $600,000 less than adding on to their current building, and only $3.7 million more than simply leaving things as they are. However, the figures they presented to council were final net costs for each approach. Detailed calculations were not provided.

Staff did admit that in arriving at a final net cost for the new building, they had deducted the projected proceeds of selling Cayuga’s Court House Grounds where the current building sits—15 acres of serviced, waterfront land. However, they have never said how much this sale was expected to generate.

When in the face of massive public opposition Council later nixed the sale, staff never bothered to revise the net cost for the new building, and Council never bothered to consider that the new building might no longer be an affordable option. They all just proceeded full steam ahead as if nothing had changed.

Presumably they will simply borrow more money. After all, their offices won’t be any less comfortable just because the money that built them is borrowed. But watch out for what that detail does to our tax bills.

You know those thermometers they put up on the sides of buildings to show the progress of fundraising for hospitals and the like? Maybe they should put one up on the side of the new administration building to show the progress of our interest payments. But three storeys might not be tall enough.

Bonnie Stephens, Cayuga