Increased property taxes due to Joe Ramia’s $500 million Nova Centre project are expected to offset HRM’s estimated $6 million annual cost for the new convention centre.
But a proposed deal between the provincial government and HRM includes a number of provisions to ensure the municipality’s risks are mitigated should that belief turn out to be wrong.
A staff report on the deal, released Monday afternoon, allows the municipality to defer payment to the province for up to 10 years should the annual cost exceed the increase in revenues.
“(The deal) commits HRM to a substantial annual cost of just over $6 million to pay for the construction, operation and maintenance of the new convention centre,” reads the memorandum of agreement.
“(HRM’s proposed) strategy focuses on using new property taxes from the entire site … to offset the lease costs for the convention centre.”
Nowhere in the staff report does it indicate the projected increase in property taxes related to Ramia’s project. Exact figures cannot “be determined until such time as the site is constructed and operating.”
According to the MOU, which will be debated and voted on by Halifax regional council on Tuesday, the facility is now slated to be complete in January 2016.
Ramia, the head of Rank Inc., declined to comment Monday.
“I don’t want interfere with the political process,” Ramia said. “So we’ll let that happen and see where that falls.”
The proposed MOU doesn’t significantly diverge from what former Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Bill Estabrooks and Mayor Peter Kelly announced in December 2010.
The lease would still last 25 years, with two options to renew for five years, and an option to buy the facility outright for $1 after 22 or 30 years.
The cost of the facility – as well as the property taxes and potential operating deficits related to the convention centre – would still be split 50/50.
The municipality would still have the right to buy the existing World Trade and Convention Centre, estimated at a book value of $12.8 million in 2010, from the province