Langley City will spend $30,000 on 14 new benches for the downtown.
The funds will come from what Councillor Dave Hall calls the council "slush fund" or the Enterprise Fund, a $150,000 fund for council to spend.
"In reality it's slush fund," and now that the end of the year is coming up, there's a race to get it spent, Hall said.
During the Oct. 7 council meeting he scoffed at the price tag of $1,785 per bench.
"I'm a little gun shy," he said. "We approved $9,000 for stick signs [as part of the City's wayfinding strategy]."
The benches cost $1,350 with the rest going to installation and a contingency.
That had Hall questioning why installation would cost so much considering it's work done by City staff.
Administrator Francis Cheung explained that extra funds are needed because the work is outside the normal staff duties. Hall was also critical of the City using Enterprise Fund money for benches but wouldn't cover defibrillators for community facilities, which prompted point of order criticism from Coun. Gayle Martin.
"I really take offense," she said. Martin said Hall was implying that staff were spending a whim and trying to use up the money.
The Enterprise Fund still has about $99,000 in it for this year.
Hall said there was no prior notice that this spending decision was coming before council and should have been dealt with during budget deliberations. During the summer, council walked the downtown to see what should be fixed, refurbished or replaced. The 50 items on the 'to do' list included moss/weed growing behind sidewalks, missing bricks in sidewalks, new decorated bicycle racks, graffiti on streetlight standards, and unsightly areas.
Fourteen benches were also put on the list and staff consider it more economical to replace them versus refurbishing them.
Martin asked whether the benches have additional pieces that prevent people from lying on them. Staff will look into options.
"Without any dividers on them, it probably looks very homey to someone," she said.
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