Senior centre gains $15,000 boost

Schubert Centre gets a $15,000 grant to help with financial challenges

The Schubert Centre will receive a hand.

Vernon council has approved a $15,000 grant to the seniors’ organization, which has been experiencing financial challenges.

“It’s a one-time grant,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.

The centre had asked the city to waive water, sewage and property taxes annually, but city officials were concerned that would set a precedent.

Financial problems forced the Schubert Centre to seek assistance in 2009 and at that time, the city agreed to $15,000 annually for three years.

The centre has a debt load in excess of $100,000, and it is largely a result of a loan related to kitchen renovations, provincial Bingo revenue being cancelled and an audit leading to $100,000 in GST being paid to the federal government in 2006.

Opposition to providing the $15,000 came from Coun. Bob Spiers.

“According to their proposal, they have 1,200 members who have a $35 annual membership fee,” he said.

“Raising this membership fee by $15 would raise  $18,000 annually and more than make up their request for taxpayers money. They have a business model problem that can be addressed by increasing revenue that will make them self-sustaining in the future as they were in the past.”

The city is encouraging the Schubert Centre to apply for a 100 per cent property tax exemption under the social services category. It currently receives 75 per cent in the educational category.

Council also wants Schubert Centre officials to seek assistance from the business community on how to improve its financial model.

Coun. Patrick Nicol believes the non-profit society is realistic about its situation.

“They are well aware of the adjustments they have to make on their expense side,” he said.

In a related matter, the Schubert Centre’s proposal for new seniors housing continues to move ahead.

Official community plan and zoning changes are being sought from the city so the society can constrict two residential buildings on its 30th Avenue property.

About 2,150-square-metres of the city-owned Luc Girouard Park, also known as the Rock, is required for the project.

The city held a public hearing to gather input on the proposed OCP and zoning amendments but no one attended.