Jump in SD73 lease fee on Ridge should be a wakeup for municipality

the District of Barriere has only recently been advised that their budget is now in need of another $13,000

At a time when most organizations have long since put their budget to bed for the upcoming year, it is interesting to note that the District of Barriere have only recently been advised that their budget is now in need of another $13,000.   This may not be seen as ‘interesting’ by mayor and council though, as they are now faced with trying to find money that an already tight budget may prove extremely hard to come by.

When Barriere became incorporated in 2007, the availablity of the Barriere Ridge Elementary School  was seen as the best option at the time for the offices of municipal hall.   As a result, a lease was signed with School District 73 and the business of the community has been run from there ever since.

The current lease expired on Jan. 31, 2014.  Included in the Feb. 3, District of Barriere council meeting agenda was a letter from School District 73 notifying the municipality of the new terms of the lease.  Most shockingly for our elected officials was the notification that the monthly lease fee of $3,266.38 per month would now be $4,343.33 per month – a jump of approximately 33 per cent.

From an annual amount of $39,196.56, to a new annual rate of $52,119.96, the municipality is looking at an extra $12,923.40 per year.

Clearly a significant jump, which seems to have arrived with no prior warning provided.  One would think it only fair to advise of such a large increase at least a month or so before the lease was to expire, especially when many budgets are still in a working stage.

We do understand that SD73 is no exception when it comes to trying to find enough funding to go around as they put their budget in place.  It is a well known fact that being able to balance a school district budget is no easy task.  However, would this not have led them to consider a little prior warning for the district?

Council passed a motion at their Feb. 3, meeting to contact SD73 in the hopes of negotiating the cost of the new lease.   We sincerely hope they are successful in this negotiation, and that some adjustment can be made, otherwise the taxpayer may be the option that must be used to solve the additional requirement of $13,000 per year.

As Mayor Humphreys has stated in his column inside this issue, “The idea that we move to our own building just became that much more appealing.”

Leasing or renting a ready-to-go building is certainly convenient, but if you look at the other side of the coin; if the district paid an average of $35,000 for six years it would total $210,000.  All that money, once spent, holds no equity within the municipality.

The purchase of the old IGA building on Barriere Town Road by the municipality may not have sat well with some of Barriere’s taxpayers at the time, but when you look at the investment, and the current renovations taking place to turn it into the new municipal hall, it makes a lot of financial sense.

In this way, the end result will be that Barriere has something to show for the dollars spent, plus equity within its own municipality.