The North Cowichan year in review report for 2020 is coming to council on June 15.
“2020 was probably the most unusual year in the history of the municipality because of Covid,” North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring says. “March 18 we shut everything down and said no more meetings, no more anything until we figure out what we were allowed to do.”
In spite of everything, the mayor says he’s not unhappy with how the year went.
“Our staff really stepped up and went to work on the infrastructure so we could have people working from home and we could do the remote council meetings,” Siebring says. “Given how unusual it was from a process perspective and from a staffing perspective, it’s actually pretty astounding that we accomplished as much as we did.”
Key among the financial papers is that North Cowichan had three times the surplus in 2020 (21-million) that it did in 2019 (7-million).
Mayor Siebring says while it looks like a lot of money sitting around, most of that money has been allocated to spending in future years through the form of reserve funds.
“The best example that I always use is our fire truck fund,” Mayor Siebring says. “We have four fire halls. Every one of those fire halls is scheduled to get a new fire truck every ten or twelve years, so we continually put money into reserve funds. So that when it comes time to buy the next fire truck, we’re not hiking taxes so we can spend two hundred grand on a fire truck. We have that money in the bank and accounted for.”
Included in that surplus also is a portion of the four million dollars received from the province for COVID relief, which the mayor says will be spent over the next three budget cycles.
More information will be available after council discusses the report on Wednesday.