Oakville residents like the idea of having a new $1 billion-plus hospital, but many oppose a proposed annual levy, averaging $140 per household for 30 years, to help fund it.

This has created an election-year dilemma for town councillors, who balked at approving the idea to meet the province’s original March 1 deadline. Council asked for more time to consider the issue and was given until April 24.

A commitment from the town is needed by that date for the project to proceed.

A recent telephone, Internet and mail survey of almost 3,000 residents found that only a slight majority back the idea of a special levy to cover the town’s $200-million share of the funding, according to a staff report released at council Monday.

“We respect that public opinion is very split on this issue,” Mayor Rob Burton said in a prepared statement. “I think the extra time we have to make our decision will give council the time to find a solution that bridges the split in public opinion.”

He added that the extra time will help Oakville “get the best deal possible for our taxpayers.”