A plan by London City Council to save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars may end up having the opposite effect.
Council decided last July to move the Parks and Recreation, Social Services and Neighbourhood Services offices out of the Market Tower and into the Citi Plaza. However, the move has not gone smoothly.
The decision by council, which was made behind closed doors, is the subject of an investigation by the Ontario Ombudsman.
Now, trouble centres on renovation estimates for the new office that are over budget. The corporate services committee will review a last minute report Tuesday at noon that shows renovations for the new social services office downtown have come in 33% over budget.
The renovation budget for the new offices was set at $850,000, however the lowest qualifying construction bid came in at $1.13 million. Staff are asking council to allow them to borrow $283,708 to make up the difference.
The staff report says four renovation bids were submitted, but three were determined to be non-compliant with the terms and conditions. Staff hasn’t said what disqualified the three other bids from consideration.
When council announced the move last summer, the city said the change would save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. The exact opposite could now happen with the $283,000 gap in renovations plus a time crunch.
The new office is scheduled to open in April with the original plan calling for renovations to be completed by mid-March. However, if that time schedule is to be met it would likely require hours of costly overtime by sub-contractors.
City hall’s plan was to consolidate the three offices, which are spread out on different floors within the Market Tower building into one location on the second floor of Citi Plaza. City officials estimated the move will provide a cost-savings of ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars’ over the five-year lease term.
The Ombudsman’s investigation is the result of a complaint that the meeting violated the open meeting requirements of the Municipal Act. In a letter sent to city council back in November, the Ombudsman’s Office wrote the complaint also alleges council made a decision in closed session during the meeting.