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Midland takes on $5.7 million in debt to finance operations centre

Construction of a new $8.8-million municipal operations centre has left the Town of Midland with $5.7 million worth of debt.

Debenture financing for $5,785,000 will be undertaken through a 20-year loan with semi-annual payments at an interest rate of 3.42 per cent.

“By getting this debt in place, it allows the director of operations the ability to finish the facility,” said Susan Turnbull, director of finance.

Construction on the project began in 2016 and continued until January of 2018, when it was put on hold pending the completion of an independent audit.

“Grant Thornton (auditors) reviewed 60 per cent of all the invoices paid on this building. The duplicate invoices in question were found to be in error and not indicative of fraud,” said Turnbull. “It is clear there was a lack of adherence to the purchasing bylaw throughout the processes, and there were some problems with some on-site supervision.”

Moving forward, all of the supervision for the project will be done in house by municipal staff.

Council approved the issuing of the debt, giving staff the ability to restart the project. Outstanding items range from finishing the doors on the winter storage garages to the designing and construction of the Parks building.

The operations centre has been in the works since 1994, when the town decided to look at replacing the Ontario Street public works depot and Fourth Street parks depot. In 2003, a site was chosen at the end of Macdonald Road, which is located near the Midland campus of Georgian College.

The centre will house the administrative offices for operations staff, a garage for city vehicles and facilities for sand and salt storage.

Staff believe the town has an opportunity to receive up to $1.09 million in top-up funding from the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund. If successful, this funding will be returned to municipal reserves.

While the new operations centre isn’t finished, staff moved into the facility last fall.

The debenture will be finalized around October, with the first annual payment included in the 2019 budget.

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