West Kelowna revives $18 million City Hall plan — without voters | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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West Kelowna revives $18 million City Hall plan — without voters

West Kelowna City Hall has been operating out of trailers in addition to the old Mt. Boucherie Community Centre since incorporation 13 years ago.
February 10, 2020 - 7:30 AM

The City of West Kelowna is reviving plans to build a new City Hall, this time skirting the need for voter assent three years after voters defeated the idea — twice.

The City plans to borrow up to $11 million as soon as Tuesday afternoon as part of a plan to spend up to $18 million for a new City Hall in an undetermined location. In a report to council, CAO Paul Gipps says the plan is “without the need to increase taxes.”

His plan suggests the design and construction of a new building could be underway in just three years.

The borrowing scheme will be considered by West Kelowna council Tuesday afternoon.

The City has been packing away $700,000 per year into a City Hall reserve fund Gipps says will total $7 million by 2022. He suggests the city could keep paying $700,000 per year to cover borrowing costs over as many as 25 years.

In May 2016, the City of West Kelowna tried to use the Alternate Approval Process to borrow the funds to build a City Hall, but more than 10 per cent of electors defeated the proposal. The City pushed the issue four months later with a referendum that was again defeated by 27 votes.

In a report “seeking Council’s endorsement” of his recommendation, Gipps stresses “not requiring a vote” as one of four benefits, as well as “not requir(ing) tax increases” and not bumping any other spending priorities.

He said the City has grown to 215 employees from 97, 13 years ago with potentially another nine new employees slated for next year.

When the City incorporated, it set up shop in public amenity spaces of the former Mt. Boucherie Community Centre near Royal Lepage Place arena and has since expanded into trailers, the Westbank Lions Hall and leased space on Anders Road.

It's unclear from his report how the City can borrow the funds without voter assent but Gipps suggests in his report that because the City's current debt is below five per cent of its annual revenue, it's eligible to borrow up to $11 million through the Municipal Finance Authority.

The plan would require council approval at Tuesday's meeting at 1:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers.

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