Surplus buildings cost HRM big bucks to maintain
CAO Richard Butts says 2 properties alone cost more than $1M to maintain
City managers in the Halifax Regional Municipality say surplus buildings that haven't been disposed of have significant costs — and that's money that could be used to balance the city's books.
HRM officials are taking a hard look at all the buildings the municipality is currently using.
HRM's Chief Administrative Officer Richard Butts said the city needs to find an additional $30 million over the next three years.
Butts told council dealing with municipality's surplus property list could help.
“Two facilities that we're looking at now cost us a million dollars a year [and] are closed — [the cost is] simply for security and to keep the places heated,” he said.
The two facilities Butts is referring to are St. Patrick's Alexandra and St. Patrick's High School.
In August, staff listed 60 surplus properties ranging from small parcels of land to former schools and recreation centres.
The list is about to grow — five fire stations have just been decommissioned and all 300 municipal buildings are under review.
“We're starting to take a look aggressively at how many of those buildings we actually need. Those buildings put a lot of pressure on our budget and a lot of them are underutilized,” said Butts.
Surplus properties in Halifax have to go through a new internal review to see if either a city department or a community group could use them.
St. Pat's High School is being assessed.
There's already community interest in the West Chezzetcook Elementary School, the Bell Annex building in Cole Harbour and St. Pat's Alexandra.
To date only three city properties have made it onto a for sale list.