Council to review final pact tonight
Doug Schmidt, Windsor Star
Published: Monday, September 25, 2006
Investors are "waiting in the wings" with new plans for the downtown as city council and St. Clair College are set to consummate the transfer of the Cleary International Centre to the school, according to Mayor Eddie Francis.
City council will review the final agreement at its regular public meeting tonight while the college's board of governors meets behind closed doors to do the same. Both parties are expected to seal the deal, with the college creating a new urban campus for up to 1,000 students and the city unloading a notorious money-loser expected to end fiscal 2006 with a year-end operating deficit of almost $1.3 million.
Asked how he felt about ridding the city of one of its biggest money pits, Francis responded: "I don't know if I'd call it a sigh of relief -- there's a sense of excitement. We're introducing a new dimension to the downtown."
While unable to divulge specifics, Francis said "a number of investors" have told him the new urban campus with its influx of students into the core helps make the case for new developments in the downtown.
The mayor said an announcement is imminent on a new tenant at the DaimlerChrysler building with business links to the college.
St. Clair president John Strasser shares the mayor's excitement.
"I think it's a great deal for both sides," he said, adding it will not only "energize the downtown core" but provide a learning environment that will bring his college's hospitality and tourism offerings "to a new level."
While the major points of the deal are already known, tonight will be the first time the public gets a formal glimpse at the details.
According to a new report by administration, the city has agreed to pay $2.3 million over two years to cover approximately half the salary and benefit costs of transferring 18 full-time, 99 part-time and three contract employees from the city to the college payroll.
The city will also pay $423,250 both this year and in 2009 toward renovations and capital improvements. Just over $300,000 of the 2006 contribution will come from the closing of an existing Cleary development reserve fund.
For five years, the city will waive a $75 per student payment in lieu of taxes mandated by the province for college-hosting municipalities. Based on an estimated 1,000 students enrolled downtown, that means foregoing $75,000 annually.
The city has also agreed to a five-year lease -- with four renewal options -- for 241 parking spaces at the Caron Avenue lot at an annual rate of $5,750. The lease can be terminated on 12 months' notice but the city must provide "comparable alternate parking."
The city will receive seven "rent-free days" per year of Cleary use for five years, and city employees enrolled at the college for work-related credit courses over the next 10 years will receive a 70 per cent reduction on course fees.
The administration report to be discussed tonight forecasts no savings to the city in the first three years but in 2009 council will have more than $220,000 available "to reallocate to other corporate initiatives." That figure is estimated to reach $718,894 annually in 2011.
Strasser said full-time classes are expected to begin next September but St. Clair will host its first event there in just two weeks -- the Canadian Manufacturing Hall of Fame Dinner Oct. 12, when some of Canada's business titans are expected to attend and become the new hall's first inductees.
© The Windsor Star 2006