by John Walker

Never in the field of politics have you seen so much baloney, half-truths and outright falsehoods spewed by so few to so many, if you watched Haldimand Council in Committee’s debate January 16th on the Cayuga Library Revised Budget.

This report, CMS-GM-01-2018, asked council to approve a 50% increase in the budget for the Cayuga library: from $2,817,500 up to $4,075,000.

The building area is reduced from 7,500 sq. ft. to 6,500 sq. ft.  You will get a 900 sq.ft. smaller building for substantially more money.

However, on October 13, 2017, three months ago, staff request for Contractor Prequalification CMS-LI-04-2017 suggested demolition and construction of the library could be done for $1,595,000.

After much learned debate council decided that the increased costs were due solely to the rise in construction material costs and approved the increase.  Unanimously.

However, their conclusions are suspect.  In Report CMS-GM-04-2015 of October 6, 2015, the approved budget to build a 6,000 sq. ft. library on the Village Green (Market Square) was $1,700,000.  This total was based on Report CMS-GM-M03- 2013 of April 4, 2013 which estimated $1,200,000 to build a 4000 sq. ft. library on the Village Green, property owned by Haldimand County.

The decision to move the library to the old hotel location on Hwy 3 resulted in additional expense of almost $1 million:  $408,925 for the land, $411,375 estimated for demolition.

Due to council’s desire to sell the Court House Grounds for development to help pay for the new admin building, they had to remove the buildings from the property.  Hence the cobbled up Report PED-GM-10-2016 by staff which was an unjustified , unrequested rationale for demolishing the 4,000 sq.ft. Haldimand Museum & Archives building.  The decision was made to put some artifacts in 800 sq.ft. in the new library along with 600 sq.ft. for the archives.  This added 1,400 sq.ft to the library making it 7,500 sq.ft. and adding $676,200 to the costs.

However, on the Their-Curran Architect’s floor plan, we see the museum area as 622 sq. ft, not 800 as passed by council.  The archives’ promised area of 600 sq.ft is reduced to 550 sq.ft.

Councillors made many questionable statements in support of this  motion.  It was stated that no reduction in space for museum and archives had occurred.  A suggestion was made to save demolition costs by burning down the old hotel.

Councillors suggested this library venue would make for a better museum.  The curator and Museum Advisory Board have gone along with these latest changes.  What choice do they have but to approve this debacle?

Suggestions were made to use the hydro fund money or more Vibrancy Funds.  A discussion of debenture  funding decided each taxpayer would see their levy raised by 77 cents a month.  It is amazing to see how spending $4 million can be so inexpensive.

The answer to saving $2 million of tax-payers’ money is to resurrect the 2013 plan and build the library on the Village Green, a much safer and quieter downtown location.  The planned building layout can be modified to accommodate this move.

Save another million dollars by leaving the Haldimand County Museum in place as citizens have overwhelmingly suggested.  Sell the recently purchased hotel site to an appropriate business-related builder.