Readers do not always fact-check articles written by their elected officials. Area G Director Mel Dorey’s column in the March 2018 edition of the Take 5 magazine suggests we need to. We need to keep our eyes open and our critical thinking skills honed.
At one point, Mr. Dorey says, “In fact, the Centre is turning out to be more of an arts and culture centre than it is a typical recreation centre.” To the casual observer, the Centre is more of a business centre than a typical recreation centre. For-profit, private businesses appear to occupy most of the space in the old school building, which is in a non-profit, institutional zone. Most of us hope the Centre is succeeding and will soon stop relying on Saltair tax and grant dollars for maintenance and updating. Regardless, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, let’s not call it a cultural centre or community centre. It is, at the very least, a business/community centre supported by public tax dollars.
Later, Mr. Dorey says, “There will be zero increase to the taxes because of the upgrades.” This seems odd because our property taxes are increasing by about or more than 4%. It is only when one takes a close look at Mr. Dorey’s claim that “doublespeak” completely rears its ugly head. Mr. Dorey is not saying the upgrades are not causing a tax increase. He is saying the renovations are not increasing a portion of the overall tax, the requisition for Saltair Recreation. The fact is our taxes will increase this year in part because the requisition for Saltair Recreation is not being reduced by the amount of money that was being used to pay off the debt for buying the building and property. Instead, the CVRD has approved spending a $137,000 short-term loan, $31,000 of reserve money and $130,000 of federal gas tax grant money on the old school building.
Many expected the annual requisition for Saltair Recreation would be reduced by more than $36,000 per year after the loan for purchasing the land and building was paid off. Now that the reserves have been spent and a new 5-year loan has been arranged, this will not happen. Arguing that this hasn’t caused a tax increase when we are going to have a tax increase is like arguing one isn’t polluting the planet by burning coal. If the CVRD doesn’t stop spending money in one area when the need for money in other areas increase, taxes go up. The decision to spend another $300,000 on the old school building has clearly caused or contributed to the tax increase.
Similarly, directing $130,000 of Saltair’s federal gas money at renovating the old school building means it is not there for other functions. This is money that could have been used to reduce the demand for a 6% increase in Parks and Trails or water system funding.