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Letter: KED: Elephant in the room is Sudbury’s sacred cow

Resident says he isn’t buying reasons from city administration about alternatives

In Tuesday’s budget talks, Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti referencing KED as the elephant in the room, expressed why no one wants to acknowledge given current realities.  

Signoretti said the city needs to re-examine many of its expenditures so “why aren’t we revisiting all capital projects?”  

Well bravo for Mr. Signoretti. Finally we have a councillor willing to discuss what we taxpayers have been thinking since this Covid-19 pandemic began.

The disturbing part of this meeting is learning why this administration has been so reluctant to explore other alternatives regardless of what common sense tells us. Apparently, the $200 million that was borrowed by the city is tied directly to these projects, such as the $90-million price tag for KED.  

Ed Stankiewicz, executive director of finance, assets and fleets, explained that while these projects can shift a bit, they should remain aligned to the original ideas. Furthermore, Stankiewicz imagined it would not be a problem replacing it with another project, but it has to be 30 years in duration. His biggest concern was if we deviated from the KED, which is $90 million, the investors would not look kindly on that and would sully our reputation, and, lastly, the money should be used as intended, otherwise it could compromise the city’s ability to borrow in the future.

I don’t know about you, but I am confused and I am not buying it. I see some contradictions in Ed Stankiewicz’s explanation and warnings. He states these projects can shift a bit, but should remain aligned to the original ideas. The operative words “original ideas,” I would suggest, should not be conditional to a specific location.

Given the financial challenges this city is facing, we should be able to build the original idea of a new arena where it is now and save millions of dollars. I do not believe this loan is tied to the KED location, but rather to the project itself. This is in keeping with Ed’s position of original idea and specifically what the money was intended for. 

Another statement that is confusing is when Ed Stankiewicz made reference that any other change in any project has to be 30 years in duration. So I am clear, the money has been borrowed, the terms have been set and we can’t pay it back till 30 years from now.  

The Playground Revitalization $2.3-million portion of the loan has already been spent on about half of the “original idea.” So what does any change in the project have anything to do with duration?  

The project is the project, and the financing is already in place? Another question I have is how does a city’s ability to borrow get compromised when they exercise due diligence and still achieve in executing the original ideas?

What is sad is we had a presentation on having a new arena with a parking, etc., while saving  Sudbury taxpayers millions of dollars, yet we have heard zip from our mayor and councillors with this proposal. What is exasperating, is to continually hear from councillors reminding us that KED was approved by a 10-2 vote in 2017 without mentioning that the “original idea” was selected having zero costs to taxpayers and returning a revenue of $500,000 per year, but they have this obligation to see it through anyway. 

The KED has become this city’s sacred cow. It appears they will go to any lengths to push this project through.

Can you imagine if any of these councillors were to apply their mindset to their personal situation? Do you think for a moment that any of them would jeopardize their financial well-being without knowing all of the facts? Well, it’s only our tax dollars they are playing with, I guess it really doesn’t matter to them.

R Hibbs