By­laws to bor­row $32.2M passed

The Prince George Citizen - - Local | Weather - Mark NIELSEN Cit­i­zen staff [email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

City coun­cil gave fi­nal read­ing Mon­day night to by­laws to bor­row a to­tal $32.2 mil­lion for 11 projects with some ac­knowl­edg­ing the op­po­si­tion ex­pressed dur­ing the al­ter­nate ap­proval process.

De­pend­ing on the item, be­tween and 2,756 and 2,967 elec­toral re­sponse forms were sub­mit­ted in op­po­si­tion – all well short of the 5,546 thresh­old to force coun­cil to ei­ther aban­don a pro­posal or take it to a ref­er­en­dum.

But the counts were enough to prompt com­ment from coun­cil mem­bers.

As he had in Fe­bru­ary when the by­laws were ad­vanced to that stage, Coun. Brian Skakun voted against six of the ini­tia­tives.

“I un­der­stand the frus­tra­tions of the peo­ple that signed the forms,” Skakun said and noted the bor­row­ing comes on top of a 4.7 per cent in­crease to the city’s prop­erty tax levy as well as $50 mil­lion worth of bor­row­ing, ap­proved dur­ing an Oc­to­ber 2017 ref­er­en­dum, to build a new Four Sea­sons Pool and a new Fire Hall No. 1.

Coun. Terri McCon­nachie sug­gested a spate of cost over­runs con­trib­uted to the op­po­si­tion and in­di­cated the city will need to do bet­ter to avoid sim­i­lar trou­ble in the fu­ture.

“Even though the chal­lenge failed, the mes­sage has been re­ceived,” McCon­nachie said.

Oth­ers said the out­come still shows a ma­jor­ity of the city’s vot­ers re­main in favour of bor­row­ing the money to pur­sue the work.

“We’ve heard from those who re­sponded. Those who didn’t sign a re­sponse form sent a mes­sage too, there are peo­ple who didn’t sign those for very good rea­sons,” said Coun. Murry Krause.

Mayor Lyn Hall said he re­fuses to ig­nore the city’s in­fra­struc­ture needs and pre­dicted the projects will be re­garded as money well spent.

“I am con­vinced in a decade or 20 years from now, we will look back on this, or coun­cil­lors of the day will look back on this, and I think there may be a bit of thank you, be­cause we have ad­dressed the prob­lem and we haven’t kicked that can down the road,” Hall said.

Ac­cord­ing to a staff re­port, the es­ti­mated im­pact on the prop­erty tax levy of the 10 projects for which bor­row­ing would be for 20 years will be 0.29 per cent in 2021, 0.32 per cent in 2022 and 1.31 per cent in 2023 when the largest of the projects, a $10.2 mil­lion up­grade of the Aquatic Cen­tre, kicks in.

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