Council settles on $127K in grants

North Cowichan councillors carefully picked through a list of 70 applications for grants at a committee of the whole meeting March 25 before divvying up $127,000 in funding as they wound down towards finalizing their 2014 budget.

They began with a discussion of the state of their reserves.

Mayor Jon Lefebure said Wednesday that the requests totalled $244,000 “so we had to really go through them and see which ones we could support and which ones we couldn’t.”

The requests for money came from groups large and small.

“We looked at institutions like the BC Forest Discovery Centre and Cowichan Community Kitchens and Harvest House and Meals on Wheels, all those kinds of organizations. Most of them got some support,” Lefebure said.

“If we felt the money would be better used elsewhere, we looked at their financial statements to determine the ones who seemed to need it most and the ones who kind of see us as an add-on,” he said and then gave an example.

“Those would be situations where we’re asked to provide $1,000 and their overall budget is over $300,000. We know that we’re really not making a big difference with that $1,000 but for something like the Bread Van it might really make a huge difference,” he said.

After that, councillors looked at the surpluses and reserves that North Cowichan could count on for 2014.

“The general feeling was that we were in good shape with our unappropriated surplus. It’s a little low but we are trying to build it up a little and our reserves are in good shape generally,” Lefebure said.

Like every local government around, North Cowichan is looking down the road at what infrastructure needs replacing in the short and long term.

“We have a lot of infrastructure and probably there are very few local governments that have a large enough capital replacement portion of their budgets that they are fully covered for all their infrastructure. What we end up doing is we end up getting grants that help us make up the gap,” the mayor concluded.