Sackville’s treasurer has released a report showing that the new town hall appears to be much more expensive to run than the three old buildings it replaced.
Michael Beal’s figures reveal that the average annual cost of oil, natural gas and electricity over the last three years in the new town hall was just over $90,000.
By comparison, the average annual cost of these same utilities for the old buildings amounted to just over $32,000 in the years 2008 through 2011.
The old buildings included the former fire hall, former municipal police building and the former town hall.
The new $13 million town hall, which opened in 2012, combines municipal government and emergency fire and police services under one roof.
Sackville resident Keith Carter says he’s been pressing the town to release the figures for the last three years.
He argues they prove that the new building has been too costly with too much wasted space.
“We didn’t need a Taj Mahal,” Carter says. “One of their big things when they were talking about it before was to lower their carbon footprint, or whatever you call it, and that it was going to be cheaper. That was the original thing. Well now, we find out that it’s not. It’s more expensive to have it.”
During Monday’s council meeting, Treasurer Beal acknowledged that the new town hall does use more utilities, but the usage falls within the projections when the building was being constructed during 2010 and 2011.
“The key is though, we have a larger facility than we had at the three other facilities and with that comes larger utilities costs,” Beal said.
His report says a larger building was needed to alleviate overcrowding of both staff and equipment at the old locations, a point he reiterated Monday night.
“We do have a much larger facility, one that the fire trucks fit in, one that has RCMP cells that are up to standards and [the] council chamber is larger than the other facility,” he said.
Beal added that without the many energy-saving features that were incorporated into the new building’s design, utility costs would have been 40 per cent higher today especially since fuel and electricity prices have been rising steadily.
He also pointed out that the RCMP rural detachment, formerly housed in a building on Union Street, is now incorporated within the new town hall and that RCMP rent covers about a quarter of the building’s utility costs.
However Carter, who ran for mayor in 2012, is far from convinced.
He says previous councils wanted a grand Taj Mahal as their legacy for the town.
“They don’t care what it’s going to cost and that’s the problem we had with the councils before and this one’s not a whole lot better [although] they are starting to listen a little bit.”
To read Treasurer Beal’s report on utility costs click here.