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HECFI, Police Services no shows at budget committee

By Kevin Werner, News Staff

Hamilton councillors were left hanging after the Hamilton Entertainment Convention Inc. officials, the Hamilton Police Board, and City Housing Hamilton.

“I was looking forward to the HECFI board budget,” said Mountain councillor Tom Jackson. “I’m a little surprised.”

HECFI officials are still overseeing the operations at Copps,Hamilton Place, and the Hamilton Convention Centre, until possibly March, saidJackson. And with some confusion over the Carmen’s Group asking to revise the agreement they had with the city to mitigate possible financial losses in 2013,Jacksonwanted to have a full financial discussion with HECFI officials.

“Management is still operating it,” he said.

Also not appearing before councillors’ first of two committee meetings listening to boards and agencies’ financial situations, was the Hamilton Police to present its 3.9 per cent budget increase, A letter dated Jan. 16 by Police Chief Glenn De Caire, stated it couldn’t appear before councillors’ budget committee Jan. 24 because the service “does not have a budget that has been approved” by the board. The Police Services Board approved the 2013 police budget Jan. 21.

Board member Terry Whitehead said the chief wanted time to talk to councillors prior to making a presentation. He said the budget was only approved by the Police Services Board three days ago and there didn’t seem to be enough time for those discussions to take place.

Also not appearing before the council was CityHousing Hamilton.

Meanwhile, the Hamilton Waterfront Trust is looking to partner with more private businesses to develop the city’s waterfront. Werner Plessel, executive director of the trust, said the organization is expected to issue a request for proposals early this year to identify possible services that could be developed along the waterfront.

With the success of Sarcoa, the waterfront restaurant which was opened last June, trust officials have seen a spike in interest at the waterfront.

“You look at all the waterfronts inOntarioand they have a mix of commercial, retail and residential,” he said.

Plessel said the trust is also looking at $1 million in capital funding from the city to improve the skating area, installing lights, and replacing some of the outdoor furniture in the area.

“With so many people down there, it is getting well used,” said Plessel.

In addition, the trust is working closely with the city to begin residential development along the waterfront since the city’s Setting Sails plans were settled at the Ontario Municipal Board. He said a portion of the $1 million would go towards design plans for new sewers. Councillors still must approve of that $1 million capital funding.

The city provides the trust with up to $150,000 in operating costs for the skating rink under a five-year agreement.

The majority of the other agencies that appeared before councillors met their 2013 zero per cent tax increase goal.

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, the Hamilton Public Library, and the Hamilton Conservation Authority all presented zero per cent increases for 2013.

But the Grand River Conservation Authority is proposing a 2.5 per cent increase for the city, while the Grand River Conservation Authority requested a 2.1 per cent hike.

While some councillors applauded the agencies meeting council’s zero per cent target, it just delays the inevitable.

“All this zero per cent will come back to haunt us,” said Flamborough councillor. “You will need a levy increase at some point.”

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