The controversy surrounding the decision of the Olds town council to place Olds Institute for Community and Regional Development (OICRD, or OI) into receivership, thereby raising uncertainty as to O-NET as a local supply of internet service as we currently know it, has certainly sparked great debate in the town of Olds.
In fact, in my 40-plus years as a resident, I don’t think I have heard such a buzz!
One comment, which has come up occasionally, but has not drawn much attention, came up again yesterday.
Someone I was visiting with stated she, as a taxpayer, did not want to see the taxpayers responsible for the debt of O-NET. I’m sure that is the case with many, if not all, taxpayers.
The hope and desire is for O-NET to be self-sufficient and pay the debt from income generated. As already stated repeatedly, O-NET was not in default at the time the loan was called. O-NET is not your run-of-the-mill business and it is highly unlikely there are competitors beating down the door in a bidding war to pay top dollar to buy its assets.
Let’s be honest, when property is put up for sale due to receivership or foreclosure, the potential buyers are usually looking for a good deal. If the Olds town council, through its receiver, chooses to effect a “fire sale” of O-NET and/or its assets at a value less than the outstanding loan balance, make no mistake, every taxpayer in Olds will be paying for this debt. The alternative is to allow O-NET to continue to operate and pay the debt over time, on a user-pay basis, as was the original plan.