Selling municipal surplus lands is very appropriate to fund municipal operations especially when capital projects become part of standard operating procedure as it is in North Cowichan. Its policies and bylaws target 15 per cent (currently 12.5 per cent) of tax revenue collected to flow to capital works.
The municipality acquires surplus land often from landowners who fail to pay property taxes. In theory, municipalities should sell acquired land and pay back into operations the shortfall of cash that compliant taxpayers were forced to make up the difference for. In our case money would flow to capital programs because that is part of operations.
If North Cowichan sold all its surplus land it would still have about 12,000 acres of land.
The municipal forest accounts for most of what it owns; these lands and some others are not considered surplus.
Any purposeful land is not surplus. The land adjoining the Chemainus Quay for example, is not surplus; someday it will be a public seawalk.
Profit from the sale of Echo Heights surplus land, for example, is in the mix of funding sources used to raise capital for municipal projects. Echo Heights profits add to the accumulating capital fund for operationally scheduled capital projects.
Cash is king and if surplus land can be turned into cash to provide tax relief, stimulate growth and attract private investment, let it be so.
Reserve funds are necessary for the health and well being of all public institutes.
The only questions I have on reserves and surplus is how much is enough? How much is too much? Do we have the right guiding bylaws? Can our money work better for us? I’ve been asking for a 2013 financial actual update for two months; it would be helpful for me to know this as I think about these things.
North Cowichan councillor