Following the failure of the 2009 referendum to expand the tax base of the Tom Forsyth Memorial Arena, the Village of Burns Lake and the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) have decided to try again on Feb. 18, 2012.
As reported in the Lakes District News issue of Oct. 7, 2009, the first referendum failed, with the majority of RDBN’s area E Francois/Oosta rural residents saying no to a proposed tax increase and service area boundary expansion to cover the mounting operating costs of the aging arena.
A total of 403 area B Burns Lake rural and area E voters turned up at the polls for the 2009 referendum. For the referendum to pass there had to be a yes majority in both area B and area E, however 138 area E voters said no, while 68 yes votes were received.
The results for area B were tallied as 52 votes saying ‘no’ and 145 wanting the tax increase to go ahead.
According to Hans Berndorff, RDBN’s financial administrator during 1999 the RDBN issued debentures in the amount of $700,000 to pay for renovations to the arena.
The current outstanding balance is $284,303 and annual debt repayments costs, including principal and interest are $74,684 which will reduce to $19,030 at the end of 2014.
The balance will be fully repaid by Dec. 31, 2019.
“The current operation of the arena was taken over by the Village of Burns Lake in an attempt to control costs and to optimize the use of the facility to generate more revenue. While additional sources of revenue have been identified, costs continue to increase and there continues to be a shortfall,” he said.
Berndorff said the 2012 referendum will be simpler than the 2009 one. He said that through the 2009 referendum, too many objectives were attempted.
The 2009 referendum aimed to increase taxes, increase the arena’s service area through a boundary expansion, increase the arena’s scope of service and apply a different cost sharing formula between the village and areas E and B.
“The current proposal takes the approach of simply increasing the tax limit,” he said.
According to RDBN bylaw number 1609, the maximum annual requisition requested will be 77 cents per $1,000, which will be applied to the net taxable value of land and improvements, The bylaw reads, “Until and including the year 2019, an additional $75,000 for the renovation of the arena and replacement of equipment at the arena, together with the costs of repaying the debt.”
The RDBN directors have requested the bylaw, which aims at increasing the tax requisition for arena operations from $112,500 to $210,000.