WINNIPEG – The city’s new police headquarters, which has gone $75 million over budget, will go under the microscope of an audit. And the mayor is promising it will be finished and the results made public before the next civic election in October.
The city’s Executive Policy Committee voted 6-1 Wednesday to hire external auditors to probe the cost of renovating the old Canada Post building on Graham Avenue to replace the current police headquarters on Princess Street. The project was slated to cost $135 million in 2009; that has ballooned to around $210 million.
Council had been assured that the builder had given a guaranteed maximum price, but this was virtually meaningless since it was based on plans that were only 30 per cent complete.
The call for an audit is an about-face for Katz, who helped vote down a similar motion at city council in November. Since then, St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes and North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty who initially voted against an audit announced they had changed their minds.
Katz said after the EPC vote Wednesday he hoped the auditor chosen will be from out of province, and that the audit stick to a 150 day deadline to ensure it’s finished before the October 22nd election.
“The whole motivation was to have this put to bed prior to the election. I think that’s why EPC voted … to put it to bed and have it all out for the public,” Katz said.
Only St. Norbert Councillor Justin Swandel voted against the audit Wednesday. He says the information already available shows that despite the cost overruns, changes in interest rates mean the “annualized costs” will still be in line with the initial budget.
“I think we are going to spend $500,000 of taxpayers money to have someone tell us we’re still getting extremely good value for money,” Swandel said.
Tuesday’s vote also called for a “quantity survey” to rate the project on its value for money.
Full council will vote on the audit plan January 29th.