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Family centre plebiscite coming

Town seeking approval to borrow up to $5 million

Malcolm Gorrill
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Dec 21/01) - Inuvik ratepayers will vote Feb. 18 on a proposal in which the town would borrow up to $5 million to construct the proposed family centre.

Council approved the idea of a plebiscite last month, but only approved the wording, and dollar amount, last week. The plebiscite will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day at the library.

Prior to the plebiscite one or two public information sessions will take place.

The family centre would include an indoor swimming pool, among other facilities. Its projected cost is around $6 million.

Coun. Clarence Wood cast the lone dissenting vote on last week's motion on the plebiscite wording, due to the $5 million figure.

In the proposal made to town council in November on the family centre, it was suggested that the town borrow $3 million, and that $3 million be fundraised.

However, Mayor Peter Clarkson clarified that in November's motion, council approved only the idea of a plebiscite, with the date and amount to be decided later.

Coun. Denny Rodgers, chair of the administration committee, explained in an interview that the committee felt it was "unrealistic" that $3 million could be fundraised within the community within the next year or two.

Rodgers said the plan now is that, if the town borrows the full $5 million, it would pay it back over 15 years, with an annual payment of $500,000.

"We're putting together a package to let people know what are some of the options we have in doing this," Rodgers said.

He said that one possibility is to allocate the additional $300,000 of block funding the town receives from MACA, starting next year.

This, plus the $200,000 the town gains annually from Monday night bingos and bingo licence fees, could account for the payment.

Rodgers said annual operating and maintenance costs for the family centre are estimated at around $200,000.

"That has to come from somewhere," he said.

Rodgers explained one option is to channel existing capital funding towards running the family centre, and that another option is that $200,000 translates into an eight per cent general tax increase.

"There's all kinds of variables that come into play," Rodgers said.

In an interview Monday, Wood said he respected the decision made by the majority of councillors.

"The vote is over and done with," Wood said. "I will do my best to make sure things work in the correct manner."