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August 29, 2018

Belleville’s new police headquarters project way over budget


Shovels are already in the ground, but some members of Belleville city council still have concerns regarding the price tag of Belleville’s new police headquarters.

Monday night council received a staff report providing a detailed breakdown of costs for the police station, which total $26,346,900.

Several councillors expressed concerns the project was over the original estimate of $21 million, and came in over budget despite assurances just weeks before the tenders came back the project was going to be on target.

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Coun. Paul Carr appeared somewhat miffed that he asked about the estimate and how close the city was going to be just two weeks before the tenders went out and was told staff expected to be close, only to have the figures come in 14 per cent higher.

“Two weeks prior to the tender I asked the question, very clearly, was the $21 million budgeted for going to meet the target and I was told yes,” Carr said. “So why would council not get updated budget estimates based on the fact that we’ve got and the architect’s report, and I’m assuming the architect is meeting with staff on a regular basis. The architect has pointed out the project costs from January 1 to June 19, so just before I asked my question, it increased by 2.9 per cent plus all along the way the architect is receiving memos from steel producers, labour folks talking about labour increases, so there’s speculation on the work front, there’s speculation on the steel costs from tariffs, there’s also the fact that we have general construction costs that go up.

Architects Shoalts and Zaback said in their report some of the other factors with the budget escalation the Belleville Police Service budget was established in 2013 as $21 million. With the escalation at 16 per cent to 20 per cent over five years, the 2018 value would now be approximately $24.36 million to $25.2 million and this does not account for the exceptional market conditions. Over this five-year period the budget was not increased.

“It gets back to the fundamental question of integrity and bringing forward accurate figures, not only with this council but with the taxpayers that are going to foot this bill and two weeks before this tender we have materials increasing, we’ve got salaries increasing for skilled trades, we’ve got tariffs at our international level in addition to regular construction increases over five years,” Carr said.

“I understand we don’t want to telegraph to companies what we might be willing to pay,” he said. “But when we are told it’s going to be $21 million, when we tell people it’s going to be $21 million, and then it comes in at $26 million, it looks like we dropped the ball.

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