Detailed shuffling finds arena dollars

Finding the money within the system to build the proposed second ice surface here was no small task but the end result– being able to do so without borrowing further or raising taxes–seemed worth it to council. at its regular meeting Monday night.
All six councillors unanimously agreed Monday night to proceed with the project, going with PennCo Construction of Winnipeg (the lowest tender), despite concerns just two weeks ago the town was well short of the projected cost.
Coun. Sharon Tibbs noted council and treasurer Carol Busch met several times to go over the town’s books to find areas where funds could be redirected to the arena project.
“This is a very complex issue and required some very in-depth [work],” she said. “We had several capital projects we had to look at.”
The town was able to cut $305,000 from Penn Co’s base bid of just under $7.2 million through some architect redesigns. It also was able to knock off another $150,000 from the price tag with the contractor. The breakdown for the rest of the cost savings included:
•redirecting $503,545 of the 1998 year-end surplus towards the arena project;
•directing $301,000 of a particular 1999 revenue towards the project;
•directing $200,000 from the 1998 waterworks surplus to the arena project;
•redirecting $100,000 from the ’98 year-end surplus on the sewer fund towards the arena project;
•committing interest from the auditorium debenture proceeds at $64,000 to the arena project;
•directing $50,000 from arena debenture interest to the project;
•redirecting $45,000 from arena painting to the arena project; and
•directing $25,000 be allocated from the 1999 conteingency fund to offset the building permit fee for the arena project.
Plus, an application to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. has reached the “second stage.” Council also asked “Ice for Kids” if it would go out and try to raise another $250,000 for the facility. Co-chair Les Baker said they would.
“What I would like to stress to you and council is the quicker we get a shovel in the ground, the quicker we get rid of this uncertain atmosphere in the community,” Baker said.
“At that time, the feeling then will be we can go out and raise some money,” he added.
Mayor Witherspoon heaped praise on both the councillors and “Ice for Kids,” adding he couldn’t wait to see the new facility go up.
“We’ll have a new auditoirum and a new arena, and a new secondary treatment plant that’s just being commissioned,” he said. “We hope now that what we’re doing will entice even more people to this area.”
In related news, council also confirmed funding for the cell phone project to be temporarily from reserve funds, committed $40,000 of committed reserve funds to the airport terminal building project, and approved $411,846 for the water pollution control plant upgrade to be from sewer reserves.
Council also directed unfunded balance of the proposed airport building be financed through accumulated surplus or reserve funds.