LACONIA — City leaders are committed to providing  $900,000 to buy sound, lighting and rigging equipment for the Colonial Theatre project.

The was the upshot of a decision on Monday reaffirming the city's backing of the renovation project, bringing eventual municipal financial support for the theater to $5.1 million. 

Councilor David Bownes said the equipment is essential for the theater and that a great deal of work has gone into formulating cost estimates, although they are subject to change as the result of inflation. 

“When we open the doors of the Colonial Theatre, we don’t want people to have to bring candles and lawn chairs,” he said.

The City Council unanimously passed a resolution on Monday spelling out its contribution to the refurbishment of the 104-year-old downtown theater, a project that originally was slated to begin on Jan. 1, 2017.

Monday's resolution was the first of two required readings. A public hearing on the resolution will take place on March 25, followed by a second reading and vote of the council.

A series of delays have stalled the complicated project, the latest coming when the federal government shutdown delayed the next round of allocations for New Market Tax Credits which are to provide $5.4 million for the $17 million project and represent the major unresolved piece of financing. 

Word on those allocations is expected next month.

“The Laconia City Council remains committed to this project as being vital to the overall economic vitality of the city in general and the downtown area in particular,” the resolution stated. 

The New Markets program attracts private capital into low-income areas. Investors receive a credit against their federal income tax in exchange for making investments through community development entities — in this case, Mascoma Bank.

When the U.S. Treasury on Feb. 13, 2018, allocated $3.5 billion in New Markets tax credits, 230 groups applied and Mascoma was not one of the 73 recipient organizations. That meant delaying the start of the project until this year’s round of tax credits are announced.

Other delays in the project occurred earlier when plans for the revitalization undershot costs of the complicated work. 

The Belknap Economic Development Council has been organizing the project.

Once home to vaudeville shows, the theater became a cinema after World War I. In the 1980s, it was divided into a five-screen multiplex, which closed in 2001.

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