Memorial Hall renovation budget grows again - Feb. 16, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
The budget for the renovations at Blyth Memorial Community Hall through Blyth Arts and Cultural Initiative 14/19 Inc. has grown once again.
North Huron Council approved a new $4.1 million project budget, which has increased several times since it was announced in 2013, though the increased spending did generate comments.
In a report to council on Feb. 6, Director of Recreation and Facilities Pat Newson explained the cost of the ongoing renovations has increased to $4,127,901.32 from the most recent $3.8 million budget. The additional funding will come from 14/19 Inc. and won’t impact North Huron’s budget.
The increase in funding was a result of project expenses exceeding the $150,000 contingency fund that had been set by the project. All the changes that had resulted in the original budget not being sufficient have been approved by the Blyth Memorial Hall Renovation Committee which includes members from the township, the Blyth Centre for the Arts, 14/19, the Blyth Legion and the Blyth Legion Ladies Auxiliary.
Councillor Bill Knott asked if there was a specific part of the project that was causing the more-than $300,000 increase in the budget and Newson said it was a number of smaller items.
“There will be 50 change orders when the project is done, ranging in prices,” she said. “We’re fortunate in that we’re not making tough decisions or leaving parts of the project out to pay for structuring and wiring and key priorities. We can add things on the technical side of the theatre and other issues brought to the renovation committee because of the extra funds made available through donations [obtained by 14/19 Inc.].”
Councillor Ray Hallahan wasn’t pleased with the request, saying that, between the budget increase and the contingency fund, there was more than $400,000 in increases in the budget.
Newson explained the project could be completed in the original $3.8 million budget, but she felt the end result would be disappointing due to aspects of the project left out.
She said the total budget for the project sits at $4,013,560.15 and that the remaining would be contingency. She also said that more funds are being brought in through avenues like private donations and the Blyth Festival’s seat sale.
Deputy-Reeve James Campbell and Councillor Trevor Seip were both more interested in the financing of the project than the increase in the budget. Campbell asked if the funds were available, to which Newson said yes, there is more than $4 million in the bank for the project, and Seip asked if North Huron’s $500,000 contribution was going to increase. Newson said North Huron is only expected to contribute $500,000.
Knott said he felt the municipality was lucky that the financing was in place.
“I’d like to remind you that we started with about $1.2 million [raised by 14/19 last year],” he said. “We’re very fortunate that we have $4 million and we have that money in the bank. This is just housekeeping to allocate the funds and make sure staff can issue cheques.”
Knott said council wasn’t going to “cheap up now” since they aren’t paying for the majority of the project.
The new budget was approved by council.