Sechelt’s finances comparable to last year despite COVID-19

An overview of the District of Sechelt’s financial situation from Jan. 1 to the end of June is comparable to 2019, according to the district’s financial services manager, despite the turbulence of COVID-19.

Operating revenue was 93 per cent and expenditures were 44 per cent of annual budgeted amounts, compared with 97 per cent and 49 per cent by this time last year.

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“At June 30 we haven’t seen any significant impact in lost revenues due to COVID,” said Ben Currie during his presentation to council on Sept. 2.

One area that did see a pandemic-related drop, said Currie, was rental revenue from community facilities such as Mission Point House and Seaside Centre. Revenue is about $3,000 less than this time in 2019.

On the planning side, the district received $4,000 more in revenue from planning fees than the $75,000 that was budgeted for the year. In 2019, the district’s planning revenue was $62,000; it was $108,000 in 2018.

Coun. Matt McLean asked whether more planning fee revenues were expected. Planning director Andrew Allen responded, “We have likely hit the bulk of them. For the most part we’re probably well over 50 per cent of what we’ll get for the year.”

Sewer operating, solid waste, police services, facilities, public works, planning and general government are all tracking “well below” expected budget expenditures for the halfway point of the year.

On capital expenses, the Sept. 2 report said “a significant amount of project costs are expected September through November.”

The capital projects update noted that “unprecedented archaeological studies” have meant construction along Trail Avenue from Teredo Street to Anchor Road is expected to extend into 2021.

The district is holding off working on the Wakefield Pump station until it receives results from an Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) grant application, expected this spring. That’s because if it moved ahead with the $870,000 project, the district wouldn’t be eligible for the grant.

At the same meeting, directors also voted to give three readings to move ahead with a loan authorization bylaw for $3 million to construct an operations centre for public works and parks departments.

The district now must get approval from the Inspector of Municipalities and following that, elector approval through an expected Alternative Approval Process (AAP).

Councillors have yet to vote on whether to move ahead with an AAP.

The total cost of the project has been budgeted at $3.6 million, with $840,720 to be funded from reserves, according to the Sept. 2 staff report.

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