Cowichan News Leader

Cop-cost refund of $1.35 million helps Duncan drain pool debt, make street fixes

Police patrol downtown Duncan on bikes. -
Police patrol downtown Duncan on bikes.
— image credit:

A $1.35-million refund in policing costs to Duncan taxpayers has Mayor Phil Kent smiling.

"It feels good for the citizens of the city."

Victoria refunded cop costs the city had paid between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2012 when council believed Duncan's population would break 5,000.

Census figures show that didn't happen, hence the payback.

The $1.35 million will now help council retire some interest and debt on its share of the $20-million Cowichan Aquatic Centre — freeing about $120,000 in annual debt and interest to council.

Councillors can also duck some debt while tackling projects such as seismic upgrades to the fire hall, a Canada Avenue-Ingram Street intersection revamp, street paving, sidewalk repairs and more, Kent explained.

One net effect will keep this year's tax hikes to about 2.3% rather than what Kent figured could have hit around 4%.

It all helps council's plan to still collect taxes toward policing costs likely to arrive by 2017, when Duncan could cross the 5,000 line, he explained.

"Essentially, by 2017 at the end of our five-year plan, the city should be close to debt free."

Keeping increases close to inflation during the next five years was picked as the best course of action, council's release explains, as it should provide more than $3 million in funds for necessary projects, thereby reducing interest costs, while preparing for the return of policing costs in 2017.

Kent cheered Squamish council for pushing the province to rebate cities and towns that had paid cop costs until census numbers showed they had fewer folks than figured.

A financial plan open house happens Feb. 12 at 4 p.m. at city hall.

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