City lowers homeowners’ tax burden for library/museum building

Thanks to a bump in cash from Columbia Basin Trust, the proposed structure will cost the average homeowner $38/year rather than $81

Trail council announced this week that the proposed new library/museum will cost the average homeowner $38 annually for 25 years, instead of the previously estimated $81.

The impact on residents (down from $6.75 per month to $3.17 per month) was reduced thanks to a bump in cash from Columbia Basin Trust and re-allocating portions of the heavy industry and business tax.

That’s good news for Silver City voters should the referendum pass during the Nov. 15 civic election when a question will be asked, “Are you in favour of the City of Trail enacting Bylaw No. 2781 authorizing borrowing of $6,288,000 for the construction of an integrated municipal library and museum facility?”

Trail council was hopeful the $38 tax increase would be reduced even more with monetary support from Teck Resources.

But in a letter sent to the city a few weeks ago, the company says it’s supportive in spirit, but not in dollars.

Teck’s response reflects the current resource industry environment, wrote Rob Scott, senior vice president, adding that Teck is in support of the project and views it as a positive aspect of the City of Trail’s downtown revitalization.

Additionally, city staff proposed that if a direct contribution was not feasible, then would the company consider paying a lump sum of pre-payment of taxes closer to time of the building construction, should it proceed.

The answer to that was negative as well, replied Scott, due to current challenging condition in the resource sector and existing commitments across all Teck communities.

The company’s response is much more subtle than the last time a referendum for a new library was underway in downtown Trail.

Trail Times pulled from its archives a Nov. 18, 2002 edition of the paper, with a headline, “Library chair glum mayor says future up to new council.” A glance through reporter Raymond Masleck’s story reveals that 12 years ago, when the company was still Teck Cominco, not only did it not support the project, Doug Magoon, its general manager, led a campaign of local business leaders against the civic complex.

At that time, a new library and city hall was proposed, that Magoon described as “the wrong strategy for starting on the revitalization of downtown.”

All these years later, the desire for a new 18,000-square foot structure slated for the former Eagles lot on Bay Ave. is up to Trail electors in just five weeks.

The city and committee continue to explore other opportunities for grants, explained David Perehudoff, Trail’s chief administrative office, adding that the outcome depends upon the new federal Building Canada program.

The $8.8 billion Building Canada Fund was established in 2007 to fund projects until 2014.

The Fund addresses national, regional and local infrastructure priorities and supports projects designed to deliver a stronger economy, cleaner environment and strong communities

“This project may fit the criteria and depending on the final timing of the introduction of the new program, more significant grants could also be obtained for this project.”