The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) is moving forward with a process to procure a $3.3 million loan for new office spaces in Pemberton.
At Monday's regular SLRD board meeting, directors passed three readings of a bylaw that will allow them to move forward with an Alternative Approval Process (AAP) in pursuing the loan.
If approved, the SLRD's new board would need to adopt a Loan Authorization Bylaw. The building in question is the Elements building on Frontier Street in Pemberton.
"This doesn't mean we're 100 per cent buying the building. There's obviously some due diligence we have to do," said Patricia Heintzman, chair of the SLRD board of directors.
Elector responses in opposition to the loan will be accepted until Jan. 12, 2015.
If the SLRD receives 3,449 elector responses — 10 per cent of the electorate — the process will be denied.
"If we can't borrow the money to do it, we have few options in Pemberton, so it will be interesting to see what happens there," Heintzman said.
"The board will have a lot more deliberation to do in terms of where we might locate in the future."
If approved by electors and the Municipal Finance Authority, the $3.3 million — a conservative figure that includes all anticipated costs — would be paid back over a maximum of 30 years, with an interest rate of 3.5 per cent.
The loan would result in a tax increase for all property owners in the SLRD.
The annual increase for property owners in Whistler, Pemberton, Squamish and Lillooet is expected to be 0.0121 per $1,000.
For property owners in the SLRD's four electoral areas, it would be 0.0127 per $1,000.
A loan of $3.3 million over 30 years with a 3.5 per cent interest rate would mean an average tax increase of $14.89 in Whistler, $5.65 in Squamish, $5.18 in Pemberton and $1.83 for homeowners in Lillooet.
Using the same numbers, the increases work out to an average of $2.91 for homeowners in Area A, $2.10 in Area B, $3.71 in Area C and $7.32 in Area D.
These numbers appear in the SLRD's most recent board meeting agenda package, and are considered to be very conservative.
The increases could end up being much lower, as the cost of purchasing the new building would be offset by selling the SLRD's old office space and by leasing out space in the new building.
The SLRD has been looking at its office space options for several years, said Area C director Susie Gimse.
"We've been talking about it for a long time," she said.
"Our staff are busting at the seams, and in fairness to our staff, we need to provide a healthy working environment for them, and that's really what this is about."
While only Area A director Debbie Demare is guaranteed a spot at on the board following the upcoming election, it was important to get the ball rolling on this process, Gimse said.
"It's not as if we're going to pass a resolution to put in a new building and then all leave office," she said.
"This is going to take some time, and whoever's elected in this election will be sitting at that table and really making those final decisions."
The AAP process cannot officially start until the Inspector of Municipalities provides the SLRD with statutory approval. Following that, elector response forms can be picked up at the SLRD office in Pemberton or online at www.slrd.bc.ca.
Elector responses can be submitted to the SLRD before Jan. 12 in person at the SLRD office, via mail (Box 219, Pemberton B.C., V0N 2L0), fax (604-894-6526) or email (email@example.com — subject heading "Elector Response").