We recently found out that the lengthy Union Station revitalization project is going to cost more than expected (with additional “future risks” looming).
But it wasn’t really that unexpected. Even back in 2009 when TCL was in its infancy and I hadn’t yet donned my politico cap I already knew that this would happen, as is the case with pretty much anything and everything government does (so, really, a no-brainer deduction there).
Ford did the usual — feign ignorance:
“Everything is on time, everything is on budget, until they run out of time and they run out of budget, and they come with their cap in hand,” said Mr. Ford. “We got to change something on preliminary planning, someone is dropping the ball. You just can’t ask for $80-million without someone dropping the ball.”
Yet others at City Hall assured us that no new taxes will be needed to make up for the $80 mill shortfall:
The staff report predicts that the city will be able to rake in more money than expected, mainly by hiking commercial rents in the retail area. That extra $98-million is more than enough to pay off the debt taken on for the additional costs, the report states. The city will, however, have to draw $20-million from reserves. The report recommends referring consideration of the new financial plan to the 2014 budget debate, and also asks for permission to amend certain contracts and retainers.
“It’s not going to cost taxpayers more money, which is the important thing,” said Councillor David Shiner, who chairs the government management committee. He noted that the rent revenue stream is expected to result in a $115-million contribution to a Union Station reserve fund once the debt is paid off, in 30 years.
Ah, the old we’ll-just-raise-the-rent-after-they’ve-moved-in routine — clever marketing! But, and I will gladly put this on the record again, it won’t turn out that way. More cost over-runs and “complications” are going to come, more “outraged” politicians will vow to “get to the bottom of things” without any real choice except to keep forking over the cash until the job is done, and so on.
We’ll see where we are in another four years, but I know where I’m placing my bets.