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CITY BUDGET: Campbell River considers borrowing $15 million

Council endorsed a water and sewer budget Monday that assumes the city would have to borrow up to $15 million to complete the projects.

The plan contains five major water projects: a water intake system (part of BC Hydro’s John Hart upgrade); a water main renewal; a water booster pump station; a main chlorine facility upgrade; a Beaver Lodge reservoir expansion; as well as four sewer projects.

“Projects are funded from water and sewer user fees, water and sewer accumulated surplus reserves, debt, grants and DCCs (development cost charges) specific to those utility funds,” said Laura Ciarniello, the city’s general manager of corporate services. “The plan includes all requests for capital work for the five-year period, however, many of these projects are un-funded so staff has assumed debt/borrowing from MFA (Municipal Finance Authority).”

Coun. Claire Moglove said the city can’t afford to put off these expensive projects any longer.

“Water and sewer are the number one and two services,” Coun. Claire Moglove said. “You turn on the tap, you get water.

“You flush the toilet, things go away. Those projects being proposed are related to community growth and water supply and pressure.”

The projects are also the most expensive the city has faced in years, coming in at around $50-$60 million.

In the end, council approved the 2013-2017 water and sewer capital plans with a $15 million borrowing limit over a 15-year term.

Council also authorized city staff to proceed with drafting a Loan Authorization Bylaw with the same $15 million limit over 15-years.

The bylaw would be a blanket document allowing staff to apply to the Municipal Finance Authority to borrow money for any one of the projects contained in the water and sewer capital plan.

However, staff would still need council to come forward with a motion specific to the project it would like to borrow funding for.

Any borrowing of funds would also need the electors’ assent, possibly through a referendum.

Also on Monday, council committed to a one per cent tax increase to generate money for the city’s Capital Works Reserve, which funds new and replacements to capital infrastructure such as roads, equipment, and city facilities.

Other actions council took on day one of the final portion of the city’s 2013 budget included: funding Centennial Pool and summer programs from the gaming reserve to the tune of $300,000 while $90,000 from the gaming reserve will go towards the Capital Works Reserve; funding downtown streetlights at a cost of $75,000 from the Capital Works Reserve; and requesting city staff investigate and report back on the possibility of taking $440,000 from the Community Works Fund for Willis and Petersen Road shoulder improvements.

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