Opportunity Costs of City Hall

I can appreciate the tough job that City Councillor’s have, stewards of taxpayers dollars they have to make tough decision about how to spend the dollars collected from citizens. This was why I was surprised to read today that work had already begun for the new City Hall. Council narrowly voted 6-5 (Mayor casting the tie breaking vote) and although a call for tender is still needed, it seems that another major decision has reached a forgone conclusion.

Our future new city hall.

Our future new city hall.

Faced with that realization I decided to see what may have been given up on in order to build a $43.3 million City Hall.

  • According to the CBC reports to grind and repave one block in Windsor it costs approximately $600,000  = 144.3 blocks repaved
  • Windsor Water World  at full operation levels costed approximately $418,068 annually = 103.5 years of operation
  • Almost build a new central library and innovation hub at a cost of $50 million or build many small libraries across the city at that cost of the new Optimist Library at a cost of $2,463,000  = 17.5 libraries
  • According to the 2011 Census there were 87,830 residential households in Windsor = a one time tax rebate of $492.99
  • Just over 1/5 of the total municipal costs for the new Windsor Regional Hospital being paid for without a levy on taxpayers.
  • A one time 20% increase to all department budgets
  • City Buses run between $600,000 and $900,000 for their life cycle per bus (depending on the type – see pg 21 of linked report, costs divided by 100 to get a per bus cost) = 48.8 buses fully funded for their life cycle
  • Almost meet the low end cost estimate for a Street Car running from University of Windsor to Via Rail Station = $50,000,000

That being said, something will need to be done with the existing City Hall. Repair costs were estimated between $20 million to $35 million  which is $8.3 million under the current projected budget. If I were to recalculate many of the above alternatives we get- 13.8 blocks of streets repaved; 3.38 new libraries; $94.50 tax rebate; a 3.8% budget increase to city departments; 9.2 buses fully funded or keep Waterworld open for almost 20 years.

Given the broader needs in our city, any number of these other would in my opinion have a greater positive impact on the day to day lives of Windsorites than a new City Hall.

2 thoughts on “Opportunity Costs of City Hall

  1. Perhaps so, but there are plans to bring most of the city function into this building, like Public Works. If this occurs, and their properties sold off, it could bring in long term savings.

    • Thanks for the comment.

      Centralization of services although bringing the potential for cost savings by having fewer facilities to maintain can have negative consequences. It assumes that all residents have equal access to this new centralized location. This can me the marginalization of “at risk” groups who can’t easily access City Hall.

      An argument could be made that for the cost difference that is available. Offices could be set up in various neighbourhoods so residents have direct access to services and provide better and more direct services. For example why could there be an OW office in Community Centres?

      Finally the centralization risks the creation of an ivory tower mentality in City Hall where if administrators don’t see problems from downtown, they do not appear to be problems in their mind.

      Thanks again for reading!

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