By Nancy Kelly
A request for Berwick to wipe out the Kings Mutual Century Centre’s (KMCC) debt with a lump sum payment of $300,000 could leave the town “with limited financial flexibility.”
At the March 12 council meeting, Berwick Finance Director Greg Towne reported Berwick does have enough funds in reserve to comply with the recent written request from the KMCC. He estimated the town will have approximately $440,000 in reserve at the end of the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
“A portion of that could go to the KMCC to assist them in ridding their debt,” explained Towne, who cautioned it would likely take three to four years to build up the financial reserve to that level again.
The town has committed a total of $300,000, to be paid in $50,000 installments over six years, to phase two development of the KMCC. Plans include the addition of a fitness facility and the relocation of the Berwick branch of the Annapolis Valley Library to a new learning centre.
In the letter dated Feb. 27, KMCC Chairman George Moody indicated the organization’s bank indebtedness prevents it from developing a line of credit required to further phase two construction.
“While KMCC has pledges of $435,700, we are presently encumbered by a bank debt of $275,000. We are writing to ask the town to advance the start of the project by using its committed $300,000 to retire the bank debt,” wrote Moody.
He indicated construction could be delayed another one or two years beyond the spring of 2014 if a lump sum payment is not obtained from the town.
“We firmly believe that earlier completion of the KMCC phase two is in the best interest of the town as well as the community association,” Moody said.
The KMCC’s mission statement calls for the organization to “build a financially sustainable facility for present and future recreational needs,” of Berwick and area residents. Phase one of the project opened in October 2010.
Deputy Mayor Jane Bustin, who chaired the meeting, deferred discussion of the matter to council’s March 26 committee of the whole meeting. In the absence of Mayor Don Clarke and Coun. John Prall, Anna Ashford-Morton was the only councillor familiar with the KMCC file in attendance. Four other seats on town council are held by recently-elected members.