N. Cowichan gets $416K gas tax fund boost

North Cowichan will get to spend $416,000 more per year in gas tax funds in coming years.

From 2010 to 2013, $791,000 a year was budgeted as part of the roads program but that is going up now to $1.21 million in 2014 and 2015, $1.27 million in 2016 and 2017 and $1.33 million in 2018.

When finance director Mark Frame prepared a comment for discussion at the last North Cowichan meeting, he said, "Importantly, the renewed program expands eligible infrastructure categories to provide more flexibility for projects that can be funded.

"Under the previous agreement funds had to be used for the following capital projects: public transit, local roads and bridges, active transportation, community energy, water, wastewater or solid waste infrastructure that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or provide cleaner air or cleaner water."

Under the new agreement, eligible categories have been added for sport infrastructure, recreational infrastructure, cultural infrastructure, tourism infrastructure, disaster mitigation and capacity building, he said.

As had been the case with the previous agreement, gas tax funds in excess of those budgeted in the capital expenditure plan can be put into a statutory reserve fund and used, with interest earned, for eligible projects in future years. Council decided to set up a new reserve fund for the surplus gas tax funds until needed for future eligible capital projects.

Frame explained that the reserve fund is a requirement of the funding.

"We can’t flow it to general funds. But, you could later put it to capital expenditure," he said.