It is budget season at the City of Brampton and our City Council is busy shuffling their offices, planning more office renovations, squabbling about how they should get along, and building a new exercise gym at City Hall.
At the Member Services Committee meeting on Monday (Dec 5th), Councillors decided to go ahead with moving their offices to join the Mayor on the 6th Floor of City Hall. All ten Councillors currently have their offices on the 4th floor. Their new offices will be 211 sq.ft., twice their current size. According to Al Meneses, the city’s Commissioner of Community Services, the new offices will provide staff with much needed natural light.
Recent “restructuring” at City Hall freed up six offices on the 6th floor that were renovated last year at a cost of $1 Million. These offices will require only minor modifications and Councillors will be able to move in within 30 days. However, four additional offices will require significant renovations, at an estimated cost of $650,000 and will take up to five months to complete. The renovations will accommodate Councillor needs for the next decade. Much of the work will be done on evenings and weekends.
Mr. Meneses indicated that the office renovations would be at no immediate cost to the taxpayer as the vast majority of funds will come from previously approved projects that were cancelled, and from projects that came in under budget. Most notably, a $500,000 in-house print shop will not proceed this year. However, the door was left open to bring back the print shop in future budgets.
Several council members previously claimed that making such a move would help to ease tensions that have plagued this council, with accusations of bullying and intimidation. However, at the conclusion of the meeting, Regional Councillor Gael Miles (Ward7/8) and City Councillor Pat Fortini (Ward 7/8) had a heated exchange and were escorted to a separate chamber.
In addition to the renovations for Councillors, $930,000 was approved for renovations to City Council chambers to deal with HVAC concerns. However, the new CAO is now expected to move down to the 4th floor (from the 6th floor) to be closer to staff. This move is anticipated to involve a Phase 2 renovation, which staff did not give a cost estimate for.
If all this talk about money has raised tensions, you will be glad to know that Councillors have approved $200,000 towards a new fitness centre in the West Tower. There’s nothing like a good workout after a late evening of spending tax payer money. Seven councillors voted in favour (Dhillon, Gibson, Miles, Moore, Palleschi, Sprovieri, Whillans) and 4 against (Mayor Jeffrey, Bowman, Fortini, Medeiros).
Councillors are expected to vote on the current budget on Wednesday, Dec 14th.