Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says the majority of city council decided behind closed doors to proceed with a roundabout at the airport.
The mayor responded to comments in Tuesday’s Guardian made by three councillors who questioned the city’s decision to spend $500,000 on the project when the money should have gone to developing a new well field.
Councillors Jason Coady, Mitchell Tweel and Danny Redmond oppose the roundabout project on those grounds and voted last month in favour of deferring moving to the design phase.
Lee said the airport approached the city and said it would come to the table as an equal funding partner if the project proceeded in 2013. The province jumped on board with its $500,000 and scheduled a press conference last week.
Lee said council was informed of the situation in a committee of the whole meeting. The majority thought it made sense to proceed since the money was there to move forward.
But council has not actually passed a resolution authorizing the $500,000 expenditure. Lee said it’s not the city’s job to announce a project involving the provincial government and if council had passed a resolution authorizing the project that’s exactly what would have happened.
Lee says the $500,000 project will not negatively affect the city’s 2013 public works budget.
“There is no mixed message here. This is how it works.’’
The city estimates it will cost $18 million to develop a new water source and take some of the pressure off the Winter River. That means waiting for federal infrastructure dollars to move in 2014.
While Coady, Redmond and Tweel argue the city should be spending whatever infrastructure dollars it has now on developing the new water source, Lee said the city’s top priority right now is finishing the storm water, sanitary water separation project. The city is still waiting for $3.3 million from the federal government to complete that $9.9-million project but decided to get started anyway. The city is using $3 million of its infrastructure dollars there.
The city is also considering installing water meters on all homes, which would cost the municipal government another $2.7 million.
“We need to stop going at this like drunken sailors. There needs to be a financial plan.’’
As for councillors arguing that the city needs to stop spending money on ditch infilling, Lee says residents in the amalgamated areas of the city were promised the same level of service because everyone pays the same tax rate and he makes no apologies for that.