Council approved borrowing up to $700,000 for the replacement of the Motor Control Center at the City’s Spray Irrigation Field at Monday night’s city council meeting. The deadline for receiving residents’ responses against borrowing was Dec. 10, 2014.
City staff noted that it didn’t receive sufficient response forms and so council could proceed with adoption of the Motor ControI Center Replacement-Spray Irrigation Facility Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 3812, 2014.
Debt servicing will commence in 2016 and will be funded by a sewer parcel tax increase of $0.50 which will be included in the 2016 Five Year Financial Plan. The city estimated the impact of this rate increase on a taxpayer with a 15.25 meter lot as an annual charge of $8.
The new council was eager look further into the borrowing.
Coun. Tom Shypitka asked if there were reserves the city could draw from instead of borrowing.
CAO Wayne Staudt said sometimes they access the reserves, and sometimes they have to borrow.
“We do have reserves. We did look at our reserves and didn’t think they were appropriate at this time, but we do have some reserves” Staudt said. “We would review that and discuss it with council whether we should access reserves or borrow it, and in this case we felt that borrowing was appropriate.”
Coun. Danielle Cardozo noted that council had met with MP David Wilks. Wilks told them that there is an infrastructure fund and this sort of a project may qualify for it.
“What would be the risks of waiting for something like that?” Cardozo asked.
Staudt said the risk is that the application is open until Feb. 18 and then they have to wait to see if they get approved to do the project.
“We did look at that option, and we said, ‘no, we better borrow’ because we don’t have a window to defer the actual replacement of this equipment,” Staudt said.
Coun. Norma Blissett asked whether it was possible to go ahead with the borrowing and MCC replacement, but then also apply for the funding from Ottawa.
Staudt said it is an option, and staff would be bringing the matter to council likely at the next meeting. He said there will also be other projects that the city will also put up as options for funds like that one.
“I think you might agree with staff that some of the opportunities are better use of that grant opportunity, because they are much larger capital projects that we would be pursuing grants for,” Staudt said.
Eric Sharpe, director of engineering for the city, explained that the MCC is an automatic system, but the control itself is manual.
“It controls the irrigation pumps themselves and a number of other electrical items within the facility, including feeding electricity to the UV disinfection,” Sharpe said. “The issue is it is one of the first things built out there
The repair is needed because of a small fire that happened last year. He said it was a series of cascading events, beginning with a breaker tripping. It didn’t burn, but filled the facility full of smoke. They were able to get an electrician in and get it back up and functioning.
“There were three pumps running and it asked for the fourth pump to come on and that was too much for it,” he said. There are six pumps on the MCC.
“It’s one of those things that we were able to get it back up and running, but really pushed it forward that this is something that is going to have to be replaced,” Sharpe said.