SCUGOG: The township’s plan to provide high speed internet to Scugog Island took another step forward on Monday, Nov. 16, as councillors learned that the project will cost the municipality less than originally expected.
At their regular Monday meeting, council approved a motion to apply for a debenture from the Region of Durham for $5,650,866 for the project, repealing an earlier expression of interest to the Region for a debenture of $7,100,000 after costs of the project were reworked.
The new debenture would pay $750,000 in short term debt financing over a five year term, as well as a little over $3,000,000 in long term debt financing over 20 years, beginning in March 2016 and over $1,800,000 over twenty years effective as of January 2017.
Ward 4 Councillor Wilma Wotten questioned how the township could repay the debenture if the project doesn’t “go the way (council) wants it to by 2017,” the year that the project is forecasted to start receiving revenue.
Treasurer Trena Debruijn responded by saying that there are measures built into the debenture to alleviate the risk.
“The debenture is broken up into multiple parts, so if it wasn’t proceeding down the road that we were hoping it would, we could make a decision not to take out the next debenture,” she said. “Secondly, if it doesn’t go down the road that we want, not a lot of the equipment will need to be purchased.”
As well as the debenture, council also pre-approved the budget item in the amount of $6,355,166, and will continue discussions on the matter during their upcoming 2016 municipal budget deliberations.
Regional Councillor Bobbie Drew questioned whether council had enough information to commit to the next step of the high-speed internet project for Scugog Island.
“When is the drop dead time to say either yay or nay? If it is tonight, then I’m not ready,” she said. “There is a great deal of discomfort with going into debt.”
Mayor Tom Rowett clarified, saying that this project is meant to “stand on its own two legs and provide alternative revenue sources to go towards areas such as the roads.”
Councillor Drew later said that she is not “against progress or against change,” but that she just wanted to know from township staff when the last “off ramp is” before the point of no return.
Ward 3 Councillor Don Kett referenced a point in Port Perry’s history to make a point that the township must stay current.
“Around 1908 was the first Port Perry municipal services. Keep in mind, it is progress and sometimes we need to make a decision to stay with the times,” commented Councillor Kett, Scugog Island’s representative on council.
As well, the township is currently working to set up a public information session for residents to be informed and offer their opinions on the project. Tentatively targeting Thursday, Nov. 26 as the date for the session. More information on the session, once it is scheduled, will be made available to residents through the township’s web site at www.scugog.ca.