The City of Penticton is looking for an amicable solution to dealing with assets they are holding for the PenMar Community Arts Centre Society.
Last year, after the society was unable to complete their purchase of the old PenMar Theatre, which they hoped to convert to a multi-use community arts centre, assets acquired to furnish the theatre, like a set of 310 seats and projector, have been in storage.
“No formal steps were taken to formally seize the assets,” said chief financial officer Jim Bauer, whose report notes that after the PenMar was sold to another party, the city removed and took possession of the assets as security on a loan issued to the society.
City council authorized a loan of $125,000 from the amenity contribution capital reserve fund to the PenMar Community Arts Society, of which $62,006 was issued.
Last month, Many Hats Theatre Company said they wished to purchase some of the seats to refurbish their theatre in the Cannery Trade Centre, touching off a review of the situation.
“Some questions have been raised regarding the legal ownership of the chairs,” said Bauer, who added the society and city staff both recognize it is in the best interest of both parties to sell the chairs at the maximum value without the city resorting to formally seizing the assets.
Coun. Judy Sentes said she was pleased to see some resolution brought to this situation instead of it sitting in a limbo.
“Until this matter came forward, there was no action regarding the assets we are holding,” said Sentes.
Council voted unanimously in favour of the staff recommendation to work with the PenMar Society to dispose of the assets,waiving city policy requiring disposition of the assets through bids or auction.
Other options included selling the assets by consignment, returning the seats to the original supplier at a discounted value or donating to a non-profit organization.
Bauer said all recovery from the sale proceeds will be returned to the Amenity Contribution Capital Reserve Fund. The assets were purchased at a cost of $50,690, and Bauer said only partial recovery can be expected. The remaining $11,916 is not recoverable.
Peter Weeber, the city’s chief administrative officer said investing in the arts can be risky, but even though the city is reviewing how they handle request like PenMar, he wouldn’t recommend not taking chances.
Mayor Jakubeit confirmed the PenMar Society could have asked for a grant from the amenity fund, which had been dormant until the Penmar proposal came forward.