The Regional District of Central Kootenay will borrow up to $4.5 million over five years to repair the Nelson aquatic centre, pending board approval Thursday.
The recreation commission earlier looked at taking out the same amount over ten years, but concluded the shorter period is preferable to keep interest payments low and reduce administration fees. It also means the loan, expected to cost about $126,000 in interest, won’t be subject to a counter-petition process.
However, the work won’t happen until the summer of 2015 and the loan will only be drawn for the exact amount needed once quotes from contractors are in place, chief financial officer Stuart Horn said.
The aquatic centre is coming off an almost $800,000 emergency ceiling replacement last year which saw taxes for the facility increase 34 per cent. Although the project is finished, the regional district will continue to tax at the same level in 2014 and projects a further 6.2 per cent increase next year.
Rec commission chair Ramona Faust explained that will help them repay the loan and also create a reserve fund — the motion on this week’s agenda sets a goal of $1 million within ten years.
Faust hopes that will be enough to handle any further emergencies, but admits there is no guarantee something won’t fail in the next year, noting the air handling unit is past its due date. “I’m turning blue holding my breath,” she quipped. “We’re at the point where tiles are lifting.”
Faust also said they could have increased taxation this year to reduce the amount they have to borrow, “but our interest rate from the Municipal Finance Authority is pretty low. After a big tax increase last year, I don’t think another would be welcome.”
The planned work is intended to fix numerous structural and mechanical deficiencies in the nearly 40-year-old building that were identified even before a section of ceiling tiles collapsed last year, resulting in a six-month closure.
The next round of renos will mean another closure, but will be done in summer to avoid interfering with swim programs.