November 02, 2015 - 6:30 PM
KAMLOOPS - With advance voting underway and the official referendum day only six days away for the proposed performing arts centre, an opposition group wants Kamloops residents to understand what it would cost them.
The group 'PAC Not Yet' is concerned the money that would be used for the proposed arts centre could be better used on other projects. The group has recently gone on a marketing campaign leafleting the city and posting signs.
Former city councillor and Kamloops business owner Nelly Dever is the spokesperson for the group and she says this is not a debate about the arts, but rather a $90 million project that is largely publically funded.
“We’re not saying no to a future performing arts centre, we’re saying this project needs to be improved upon. There are too many unanswered questions for taxpayers to support this project,” she said in a release last month.
City staff have said no projects will be put off as a result of the arts centre project, but the PAC Not Yet group says there are other things the city should spend its money on.
A portion of the centre will be funded through the Gas Tax and Gaming Fund Reserve. This is money the city receives from the sales of gasoline and things like lottery tickets and is essentially the city’s savings account. The PAC Not Yet literature argues these funds should be spent on infrastructure, namely fixing roads, upgrading storm water systems and improving handicap accessibility throughout the city.
The group breaks down the costs associated with the centre and believes it will likely cost tax payers more than the $90 million because of interest accrued on debt repayments.
“A lot of people are really concerned about the increase in taxes, the public debt and believe more can be done to minimize costs of this project,” Dever said.
The city projects it will take 20 years to pay off the performing arts centre using capital from the two reserves, an increase in property taxes and funds from on-street parking metres. Tallied together, the business case estimates debt accrued would be closer to $92 million, nearly double the $49 million the city would be borrowing.
Mayor Peter Milobar previously said the city has been completely transparent about the cost of the project.
“It’s like when you buy your house for $300,000 you really paid $500,000 for it. But whoever says that? We never talk in those numbers when we talk about a project; it’s like a mortgage,” Milobar explained.
The PAC Not Yet group raises various concerns within its recent mailout, including concerns over building a performing arts centre when Cascades Casino has plans to build a theatre and the lack of fundraising from the arts community in Kamloops for the project.
The city can fund roughly half of the performing arts project with money from reserves, federal government grants and naming rights. The remaining $49 million is the portion residents are being asked to vote on during the Nov. 7 referendum.
If the project goes ahead, taxpayers will be on the hook for $3.68 million in debt repayments each year, with roughly $1.2 million of this being interest alone. Add this to the $900,000 expected in operating costs and the yearly payment comes to roughly $4.6 million. Over the course of twenty years, the total reaches $92 million.
This translates into to almost $40 extra in taxes, per household, per year for the next twenty years.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015