As was reported last week by The Compass, an offer is on the table for the Town of Cupids to purchase the building for $1 from the not-for-profit Cupids Legacy Inc.
The latter group would continue to operate a museum and gift shop there while paying rent.
On one side, you can see how such an arrangement would entice a municipality that’s already expressed an interest in finding a new venue for town offices.
Who wouldn’t want to have such a nice new place from which to manage town affairs?
Well, it appears there are plenty of people in the community inclined to disagree with that sentiment.
The number of names on a petition passed around the community suggests the public vote on whether or not the town should take ownership of the centre could be a close one.
Council is certainly making the right decision putting the matter to a public vote.
With multiple members serving on the Cupids Legacy Inc. board, there’d be a clear conflict of interest leaving the matter to council’s discretion.
Looking at it from the opposition’s perspective, it’s understandable to question the rationale for moving into a building that’s going to cost more annually to operate compared to the community centre, where town offices are currently located — CBC quoted the mayor saying it’ll be an $18,000 difference annually.
Cupids is not a large town by any stretch of the imagination, therefore it is reasonable to be concerned about taking on that sort of expense.
Generally speaking, towns like Cupids do not have a growing tax base to play with.
However, there are factors to consider that perhaps make this a deal worth considering. What remains of the $450,000 grant from the province to build a new town hall ($50,000 was spent on a feasibility study) can be used on other projects.
The town’s water system has already been identified as a priority on that front.
The town has also touted its good financial standing and the fact it had a surplus last year. Of course, that situation can change quickly if unexpected needs arise or the tax base takes a hit.
The town’s budget is $637,374 for this year. $18,000 represents just under three per cent of that figure, and the mayor has claimed there’s money in the budget to accommodate repairs to the current location of town offices or Legacy Centre operations.
With a building that’s five years old, you’re not looking at a lot of repairs in the years ahead, beyond the work necessary to create the appropriate office space.
It would ultimately be sad to see the building struggle to survive and be forced to close.
The chances of another group taking an interest in owning the building would probably be slim. Therefore, the town is an obvious suitor.
Those tasked to make the final decision will hopefully get the answers they need at the April 28 public meeting.
Ideally, an informed vote two days later will produce the best outcome for all residents.
Andrew Robinson is The Compass’ editor. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.