Renovation costs in Kfar Saba increases to NIS 48m

Opposition councilors chose to stay away from the council meeting held last week to discuss the latest expansion.

The cost of renovations to the Kiryat Sapir area in central Kfar Saba has blown out to more than NIS 48 million, and some councilors fear the project may turn into a "white elephant," reports The councilors were dismayed last week when they were asked to approve an extra NIS 14 million to add to the NIS 34 million that has already been approved for the project, which itself had been enlarged from the original budget of NIS 21.7 million. According to the report, opposition councilors chose to stay away from the council meeting held last week to discuss the latest expansion of the budget, but "their absence was not felt" because deputy mayors Yakov Ohion and Benny Kabara were just as outspoken in their criticisms. Ohion said he was "very uncomfortable" with the way the project was being managed, and said that if he had known that the budget would blow out to more than NIS 48 million he never would have supported the project in the first place. "This is an unjustified and incorrect allocation of municipal resources," Ohion said, and added that there were many other more important projects that needed money, including the repair of roads and sidewalks and the upgrading of schools and kindergartens. But he said he felt he had no choice but to support the expansion of the budget. "If it would not create a situation such as the existing one, in which work is at its peak and there is a fear of leaving a white elephant in the most central area of the city, I would not vote for an expansion of the budget... but I have no choice," he said. A municipal spokesman acknowledged that there had been "planning failures" in the renovation project that had led to a number of unanticipated problems and had increased the costs. But the spokesman said it had been agreed that the project should be finished, and this would require the extra NIS 14 million, which would come from the municipality's extraordinary budget allocation.