Uh-oh. Trouble on the street furniture front.[rssbreak]
Seems that agreement the city signed with Astral Media to plop snazzy bins, bus shelters and the like on sidewalks city-wide has developed a sizable crack, so to speak.
And a few mil are about to be flushed right down it.
At issue: the city forgot to factor into the overall cost of the 20-year contract with Astral a concrete fact - that the thousands of new garbage bins and other furniture have to be installed on concrete slabs.
Surprise! Astral doesn't want to pick up the more than $6 million tab for the slabs and, according to a report from city solicitor Darrel Smith before this week's Government Management Committee, refuses to install some 8,842 pieces of furniture, 7,700 of which are garbage bins, unless and until the city agrees to pay for the concrete screw-up.
Time's running out. If the dispute with Astral isn't settled quickly, Smith's report says, the city would be put in the position of having to replace approximately 3,000 existing bins with temporary ones at a cost of $1.2 million.
"It would be a thrown-away cost," writes Smith, "in that those temporary bins would ultimately be replaced by permanent ones."
How did it come to this? Smith says he can't divulge particulars - solicitor-client privilege and all that.
"Given that the matter is on the in- camera agenda, I don't think there is a lot by way of background I can provide."
Looks like the city's preparing to bend over, the bottom line being too hard to ignore on this one. Total value of the Astral contract to the city when the cost of the furniture and royalties from ad revenues are added up: more than $1 billion.
Note to city works crews: get out those cement mixers.