HUNTSVILLE – Huntsville councillors are supportive of handing Chaffey Hall to the Huntsville Lions Club, even if it means adding some cash to the deal.
Coun. Karin Terziano asked during a Jan. 28 council meeting why an unconfirmed deal to transfer ownership of the hall to the Lions for a nominal fee would include the town continuing to pay $11,577 annually for five years to the club for building operation.
“I’m just wondering what the benefit to the town is long-term with this agreement,” asked Terziano.
The question was raised in the wake of a 2013 municipal budget discussion that left councillors contemplating reductions to a proposed 9.5 per cent levy increase.
Kelly Pender, chief administrative officer for the town, said the town budgeted $11,577 for operation of the hall in 2012 and would continue to pay that sum as part of an ownership transition period. If the club takes over ownership of the building, the town would no longer pay capital costs or insurance on it, nor would it be liable for the building.
If the club decided it no longer wanted the building in the future, the town would have the first opportunity to buy it back for the same nominal fee. It could then sell the building for a profit, or choose not to buy it back, explained Pender in response to further questions.
Mayor Claude Doughty stated that the deal was one of the options presented to the Lions when the town was reviewing its community hall assets. Chaffey Hall was one of the buildings the town was advised to get rid of.
The Lions were offered the building because the hall has been the club’s home for more than 30 years.
Coun. John Davis supported the potential deal, even if it meant a further five-year financial commitment.
“The Lions club has done a fair bit of work on the building over time. We’ve certainly put some dollars into capital improvement, but so did they,” said Davis. “They’ve been a good steward of that building and they bring a lot of things to the community that improves the community.”
He said the operational funding would be a good way to ease the transition of ownership.
No official deal has been struck regarding the transference of the hall’s ownership.