It was, according to the plaque by the river, "inspired by community participation."
It was "generously funded" by Canadian Tire, the Province of Ontario, PUC Inc. and the City of Sault Ste. Marie.
It was "strategically located on the St. Marys River for the enjoyment of all the citizens of Sault Ste. Marie and visitors to our historic waterfront."
The Millennium Fountain in Clergue Park was dedicated in July 2001 by then-mayor John Rowswell and members of City Council in celebration of "the New Millennium 2000."
This week, 15 years later, our beautiful night-lit waterfront fountain was quietly and permanently scrapped to cut $24,700 from the city budget.
"We're nickel-and-diming this to death," bellyached Ward 5 councillor Frank Fata.
"We kept a rat abatement program for 36 grand but we got rid of a fountain that was costing us 23 thousand," said Fata, arguing that council's time would have been better spent finding a way to freeze the pay of unionized city workers the way non-union staff salaries were frozen.
The Sault's 2017 tax levy, set by City Council Monday night, will be $109 million, 4.34 per cent higher than last year.
Pay more, get less
Maintaining all city services at last year's levels would have required a 6.63 per cent levy increase.
So councillors arrived Monday armed with fiscal tantō knives, ready to slash.
They deftly sliced $314,000 from the Fire Services retirements account, and $750,000 from a contingency estimate.
They saved $581,000 by "organization realignment" in city departments, doing things like:
- no longer printing paper copies of City Council agendas
- axing summer jobs and internships for students
- closing an engineering test lab
- cutting back on instruction and furnishings at seniors centre
- spending less on the Hockey Hall of Fame
- crematorium fuel reduction
- eliminating two full-time-equivalent jobs
Some of the other service cuts approved by City Council this week may prove more controversial.
Residential collection of leaf and yard waste will no longer occur during the months of July, August and September.
The city landfill on Fifth Line and the household hazardous waste service there will now be closed on Saturdays through the winter months of November, December, January, February and March, raising concerns that people who work Monday through Friday will no longer be able to use the dump.
Closing the landfill on winter Saturdays is expected to save $24,700.
Road resurfacing budget cut by $820,000
The most contentious cut approved by city councillors this week was an $820,000 reduction in the miscellaneous road construction resurfacing account.
Mayor Provenzano conceded that the Sault has a "significant roads deficit" because of "previous mayors and councils not making the right investments in roads."
But the city will still spend $11 million on roads in 2016 and there's a separate budget item that will ensure potholes are fixed,
"I don't think the idea is not to repair potholes," Provenzano said, "We would still be doing that."
The road resurfacing account is used for larger projects like recent work on Pim Street from Wellington to Queen; and on Case Road, councillors were told.
For the past two decades, about one million dollars a year has been earmarked for road resurfacing.
The resurfacing reduction is intended to be for 2017 only: the money is expected to be re-added to the 2018 city budget.
"This is a reduction in services because there will be some problems in the spring that we won't be able to address in as timely a way as we used to address," the mayor said.
Ward 6 Councillor Ross Romano opposed this cut.
"That money gets used up. Every penny of it gets used up every year," Romano said, adding that the greatest number of complaints he gets as a city councillor are about spring road resurfacing and snow bank removal.
Councillors were also asked on Monday to reduce the money spent each year to remove snow banks, but rejected that idea.
Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Shoemaker, who chairs the city's finance committee, wasn't at Monday's budget meeting.
Instead, Shoemaker was at Algoma's Water Tower Inn, helping TVO host Steve Paikin sell copies of his new book about former Ontario Premier Bill Davis.
Shoemaker organized the event, a fundraiser for Thrive Child Development Centre (formerly Children’s Rehabilitation Centre Algoma).
Here's how the remaining councillors voted on the 2017 budget.
Steve Butland: for
Paul Christian: for
Susan Myers: for
Sandra Hollingsworth: against
Judy Hupponen: for
Rick Niro: for
Lou Turco: against
Marchy Bruni: for
Frank Fata: against
Ross Romano: against
Joe Krmpotich: for
Christian Provenzano: for
Ward 6's Ross Romano warned that the cuts may return to haunt his fellow councillors.
"Let's look at last year's budget," Romano said. "We cut $265,000 out of our transit budget. What did that amount to? A quarter of a percent. We're still hearing about it today, a year later."
Romano unsuccessfully tried to get council to consider additional borrowing, with some operating budget items repackaged as capital improvements.
City staff will be asked to find a way of continuing to provide $200,000 a year for downtown development projects without affecting the levy.
The Art Gallery of Algoma is expected to receive $100,000 from the city to address current fiscal difficulties.
Mayor Provenzano suggested that the $100,000 be taken from the city's contribution to the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library.
"My feeling is that the library should be able to assimilate with having $100,000 less, seeing as they'll not be running the Churchill Branch this year," Provenzano said.
The city is not expected to provide requested cash donations of $75,000 to the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre or $15,000 to the new Fringe North theatre festival.
The mayor was pleased that the budget was set in December, before the start of its fiscal year in January.
In recent memory, the city budget was not approved until April.
"It's the financially responsible thing to do," the mayor said.
"It's what most municipalities do. When you budget in April, you lose the first quarter of the year. You can't make up. You have three months of lessened runway to make up these savings."
City Council also approved a 2017 capital budget this week, at levels essentially unchanged from 2016.