Several dozen Spud Valley residents turned up for a pre-referendum public info session at the Pemberton Community Centre on Monday night, June 2, and saw the most up-to-date financial figures for an associated recreation complex.
Village voters will head to the polls on Saturday, June 14, to decide if they support borrowing $4.8 million for the construction of an indoor, two-court, multi-sport recreation facility and outdoor soccer field.
The numbers presented at Monday's info session indicated an updated capital cost of $4.7 million. The loan would be repayable through taxation over 30 years.
To complete the financing, the village is proposing an annual $230 parcel tax.
Updated projected operational costs were also provided, estimating a $51,000 deficit in the first year, but profits exceeding $40,000 in the years that follow.
Operating deficits will be covered through general taxation as well. To cover that amount in the first year, the village is proposing an additional $10.50 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
All considered, village officials presented the estimated tax increase for Year 1 at $267 for an assessed property value of $350,000, or $309 for an assessed value of $750,000, as examples.
Although financial figures have been finalized only recently, acting mayor James Linklater said he's hopeful that voters have access to all of the information they will need to make an informed decision at the polls.
"I know the goalposts have been moving, and certainly Daniel (Sailland, chief administrative officer) presented it really well," Linklater said Tuesday, June 3. "I thought we were quite forthright and honest about what we know and what we don't know."
Linklater added that those in attendance asked some good questions that led to a healthy dialogue about the project.
"I thought it was quite civil and positive," said Linklater, adding that some of the attendees were Area C residents, who aren't eligible to vote in the referendum.
Usage projections for the first year of the facility continue to show The Hill Academy Pacific and Pemberton's gymnastics clubs as the anchor tenants, with both anticipated to log 1,200 hours or more in the first year. However, officials with The Hill Academy — a sport-focused private school planning to open a Pemberton campus next year — have stated that the school's needs would increase significantly in following years as the campus becomes more populated.
Last month, representatives from The Hill Academy and Sunstone Ridge Developments met with council and expressed interest in entering a formal usage agreement to help eliminate council's concerns over taxpayers bearing all financial risk for the facility. Linklater said the parties have not had an opportunity to meet further to discuss an agreement.
Voting on June 14 will take place at the Pemberton Community Centre between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Visit www.pemberton.ca to view all materials and information presented at Monday's info session.
REQUEST FOR REFUND DENIED
The former owner of a Pemberton laundromat won't be reimbursed for unmetered water bills, despite appearing before council to plead his case one more time on Tuesday.
Les Ecker, who owned Pemberton Suds until last year, was seeking a refund of approximately $10,000, which represented the difference between his actual bills and what he would have paid with a water meter installed.
In 2009, village officials had informed Ecker that Pemberton would be installing water meters through a grant opportunity. However, it was decided the project was too expensive to undertake, and the village installed "zone meters" to monitor water usage instead. Property owners have since had the option to install water meters at their own expense, though Ecker didn't obtain one, assuming the original plans were still in place, and said he was never told he could install one out-of-pocket.
In December, a staff report said Ecker was informed multiple times about the meter option, which he denied. A new report Tuesday said he was not, in fact, given any additional notification beyond a public notice sent to all residents. Ecker maintains that he did not receive that notice, either.
Council members sympathized with Ecker's situation — more than one called it "unfortunate" — but suggested he should have followed up on the village's plans for metering more efficiently.
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