The meeting started with an informal gathering which encouraged interaction between the Aquatic Centre Committee members and the public. This session was followed by a more structured information session. Recreation and Culture Director Lyle Thomas started the session with a general outline of the proposed Aquatic Centre and information on how the Town of Princeton had reached this present stage of Aquatic Centre talks. Thomas was followed by Aquatic Centre Committee spokesperson Tanya ter Keurs. Ter Keurs is the nurse practioner at Cascade Medical Centre and used her knowledge of the community’s health to outline the positive attributes of a new Aquatic Centre for Princeton.
Consultants Bruce Carscadden and Bill Webster were next. Carscadden gave a more detailed description on the preferred concept the community voted on in 2008. Webster filled the community in on some of the details that are part of the process leading up to a referendum on Saturday, September 24, 2011.
After the information session was complete, residents were encouraged to ask questions and comment on the proposal. Many asked for further clarification on financial implications the Aquatic Centre would have on them including operating expenses and the loan for 6 million dollars. Some were concerned about the depth of the deep end while others were concerned about the number of swim lanes incorporated into the design.
The taxation system for the proposed Aquatic Centre is to be based on a parcel tax. “A parcel tax is a method of collecting taxes whereby every property pays the same amount regardless of the assessed value of the property. Only properties that have improvements will be included in the parcel tax. Properties included in the parcel tax are residential, light industry, heavy industry, utilities and business.”
The total capital cost projected is 9.3 million dollars. but the plan is to ask for the community to vote for a maximum 6 million dollars and for the rest of the needed funding to be found through grants and donations. The six million would be amortized over 20 years at 4.25 per cent interest. The parcel tax cost for the loan would be $129.60 for 20 years. This figure was reached based on an equitable split between the 3,549 eligible parcels within the regional district and town. The tax amount could decrease as more properties develop, if the cost of construction turns out to less than budgeted for and/or more grants and donations are secured.
In the hand-out it was mentioned that resident home owners received a home owners grant increase this year of around $200. “This could help you to offset the cost associated with a new aquatic centre.”
The projected operating costs for the aquatic centre have been estimated at $500,000 annually which would add $155 in property taxes to each household. This number too it was noted could be lower if annual revenues turn out to be higher than anticipated or expenses lower. The total tax implications would be $283.60 or less which broken down comes to $24/month.
Many questions were answered to the full satisfaction of the inquisitor while others left the Aquatic Centre Committee with information to locate before the next gathering. “It was a really good start to the process,” stated Thomas. “We still have work to do and answers to collect for the voters, so that they go into the referendum prepared to give an educated vote. Some of the groundwork is done now and more is underway. I feel positive we are moving in the right direction and hopefully, before our next public meeting we can fill in some of the blanks.”