Lack of movement with paving budget causes stir

Council say $45,000 set aside for paving improvement will be carried over to next year

As the latest financial report came forward to the council table last week, a few items caused concern and question, in particular the lack of movement with budgeted money for paving throughout town.

The report for the month ending July 31 was presented to council by finance director Ronnie Gill at the town’s Finance and Administration Committee meeting at the town hall last Tuesday.

“We have 29 property taxes outstanding and we are hoping that will be reduced by the end of the week,” said Gill at the meeting. “The treatment plant won’t happen this year due to budget constraints and will be looked at next year.”

Coun. Frank Hornbrook in particular had a few questions for Gill and the rest of the town’s staff present.

“We seem to have lots of items budgeted for, but the only ones doing anything are the Cowichan Lake Education Centre and the Lake Cowichan Fire Department, who is particular are very active,” said Hornbrook. “There is not much happening with the town office renovations. Are we just budgeting and not doing anything with it? I know the trucks are coming this fall.”

Chief administrator Joe Fernandez tried to ease Hornbrook’s fears.

“The architects are working on the town hall renovations,” said Fernandez in response. “They are currently determining the foundation for the renovations and this takes a bit of time, so that is out of our control.”

A total of $45,000 was set aside earlier this year specifically for paving issues but very little of that money has been used.

“The $45,000 looked good for paving projects but we contacted Duncan Paving and they told us it would cost more than double that amount of money.”

Fernandez also said that $45,000 will now be set aside and carried forward to next year’s budget, again specifically for paving projects and improvements.

“The best thing would be to transfer the $45,000 into a road reserve fund, that way it stays in that area. We do have one of those accounts,” he said.

Coun. Tim McGonigle, who chaired the meeting, agreed with Fernandez.

“It would be best to do that otherwise that money will just go into surplus,” said McGonigle. “I’d be prudent to still wait a little later in doing that as something might come up, if a water line breaks for example. We could maybe wait until Nov. 14 (after the forthcoming municipal election).”

Local realtor Wendy Klyne was in attendance and she also questioned the lack of movement with the paving money.

“We have $45,000 budgeted for paving, how about finishing the sidewalk outside the Lake Cowichan Lodge? she queried. “Every place in town needs a new sidewalk. That hotel is one of the biggest taxpayers in town and we just walk out of the driveway there and it is just a piece of gravel. It’s a poor introduction to the community. It just doesn’t make sense.”

McGonigle responded to Klyne.

“We did have discussions with the owner and at this table and we do want to see it finalized as soon as possible, as some at this table wanted it done right away. The majority of us decided that we won’t fo through with it at this time, but that’s not to say it won’t happen,” he said.

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