Council not submitting expression of interest for former public school

IMG_4699.jpg

Marmora and Lake - Council will not be moving forward with submitting an expression of interest to the Hastings Prince Edward District School Board regarding the former Earl Prentice School.

Council was unanimous in its decision to not pursue further information about purchasing the property at its January 15 meeting, citing fiscal responsibility to the taxpayer as its main rationale.

“When this item came before council (initially) I was convinced it was the socially right thing to do,” said Mayor Jan O’Neill, addressing the large crowd in attendance.

“Since I have reviewed staff’s reports, I think financially, it’s not fiscally feasible.”

Mayor O’Neill explained that council had asked staff from Treasury, Economic Development and Building to submit reports outlining costs, benefits and risks of obtaining the 22,000 square-foot property. As a result of that report, a round-table discussion was held in early January that included community stakeholders and representatives from affordable housing and Hastings County.

Two of the three reports recommended that council not move forward with submitting an expression of interest.

Councillors Jason Carman and Bernie Donaldson indicated that their decision was not an easy one but it was in the interest of the taxpayer.

“All I wanted was to obtain a price through the Hastings Prince Edward District School Board knowing the price might dictate my decision,” said Councillor Carman, adding after review of staff reports he changed his opinion.

“Council has received documents on how we cannot afford this undertaking. I would not be acting in a wise and responsible manner to pursue this endeavour at this time.”

Deputy Mayor Mike Stevens agreed, stating the municipality has already spent $15,000 obtaining information and an appraisal on the property, and that further expenses would be incurred if council moved forward in the process.

“We could have hired someone to work to your benefit with that $15,000,” he told the audience, adding that purchasing the school would mean taxes would go up 10 per cent at a minimum.

“Even if they gave it (the school) to us for a dollar, we still can’t afford it.”

By voting to not move forward with the expression of interest for Earl Prentice School, the Municipality will no longer be on the list of potential candidates to purchase the property and won’t be notified of the school board’s appraisal price or interested parties.

Jennifer BennettComment