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As councillors spend half a million dollars a minute, Civic Centre walls leak like a sieve

Budget approved. 2018 property tax levy increase will be 1.98 per cent
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Buckets were set up Monday to catch rainwater pouring through the leaky east wall of the Civic Centre. David Helwig/SooToday

Think Sault Ste. Marie City Council spends like drunken sailors?

Think again. Our city is so poor that, as councillors approved their 2018 budget on Monday, rainwater was pouring by the bucket through the deteriorating cladding on the Civic Centre's walls.

Okay, the leaks weren't visible in the council chambers on Monday night, but water was still entering the building through the east wall of the adjacent Russ Ramsay Room, where staff scrambled to set up buckets before a Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corp. meeting earlier in the day.

City Council controversially voted in February to spend $6.5 million to sheath the 42-year-old downtown landmark in shiny new white aluminum composite panels, but the work has not begun.

Ninety per cent of the drawings and specifications have been prepared and city staff report they are very close to tendering the project.

Leaky walls aside, councillors spent half a million dollars a minute over tonight's five-hour budget meeting.

They approved a total of $164 million in expenditures: a $112 million operating budget and $52 million capital budget.

That adds up tp a 1.98 per cent total levy increase, of which the city's portion is 0.99 per cent.