A vote in Vanderhoof for a swimming pool is surely a vote to drown in debt for decades. The proposed borrowing bylaw would permit the borrowing of $4 million, repayable over 30 years at five per cent interest. That requires annual debt payments of $275,000. At the end of the 30-year amortization period, taxpayers will have paid back a whopping $8.25 million, $4.25 million of that in interest. Surely there must be other viable options without such a waste of tax dollars.
Recreational facilities of this kind are known for huge deficits in the neighborhood of $400,000 to $600,000 annually, a deficit that will be paid for by taxpayers. Lets be honest about this folks, we cannot afford this Cadillac proposal.
How can Vanderhoof ever sustain a pool with an estimated population of only 8,000 to support it? It just doesnt make any sense.
The long-term debt is just one issue. The second issue is the increase in rental rates and property taxes. Approval of this bylaw would result in a 19.45 per cent increase in the municipal portion of your taxes. If you havent already calculated what it would cost you as a residential taxpayer, look at the assessment value on your 2012 tax notice on the line that reads general municipal tax. Multiply the number of thousands by .8681. For example, if that assessment is 250,000, then multiply 250 by .8681. That equals $217.03, a 19.45 per cent increase. That is the additional tax you would pay every year, year after year, for 30 years; and that amount will only increase. Business and industry would be paying even more because of the tax ratios across the various classifications.
And further, should council wish to include any additional capital projects in its annual budget, more taxes would be required to fund those projects, independently of the tax increase for the pool. Are you ready to vote to increase property taxes even more?
Third, we have to ask if the expense of a pool is justified. Is a pool the best use for that kind of money? Will it provide the biggest bang for our buck? The whole community cannot afford it and wont be able to use it. I believe that a pool would not serve the larger sector of our community like some other kind of facility such as a community center. These centers typically provide opportunities for a wide variety of activities for a much larger cross-section of the population. It is my understanding that council has directed administration to research the possibility of using the old Catholic School as a community center. Renovations to that facility for use as a community activity center would be but a fraction of the cost of a pool.
It would be wonderful for Vanderhoof to have a pool that would provide all the health benefits and have the potential to save lives over time. But any proposal must be both affordable and sustainable. In my opinion, the current pool proposal going to referendum on February 16th is neither affordable nor sustainable.
Whatever your opinion on this issue, please be well informed about the choice you make on Feb. 16, 2013. That choice is irreversible.