(from l) Coun. Sandra Burrage; Coun. Kim McIlravey; Mayor Susan Swan; CAO Murray Daly; Coun. Christine Rivett at the Clinton council meeting, Jan. 27, 2021. (Photo credit: Facebook)

Clinton council approves borrowing $1.2 million for new public works building

Village does not need to get assent from voters before seeking to borrow full amount needed

All members of Clinton council were present (Coun. David Park via phone) for the council meeting on Jan. 27, which began at 7 p.m.

Clinton rec site

The Clinton and District Outdoor Sportsmen Association asked if the rec site they put in above the tracks last year is suitable to be used for overnight camping. Association secretary Laura Paquette noted in a letter the desire to make the site a “legit” one, which was clarified as one where overnight camping could be offered,. Staff were directed to get more information about the status and ownership of the land in question and report back to council.

Former Ashcroft Elementary School property

A letter from School District No. 74 asked Clinton council for feedback about the proposed disposal of the former Ashcroft Elementary School property, which since 2015 has been operating as the Ashcroft HUB. Park said he could not think of any interest the subject would have to the Village of Clinton. Mayor Susan Swan said that her concern would be about the fate of the HUB, and ensuring it stayed on the property.

Coun. Sandra Burrage noted that quite a few Clinton residents use the HUB, and suggested that council spread the word about the situation to the public and encourage them to participate in the public Zoom meeting scheduled for Feb. 4. In answer to Park’s statement that he really didn’t know what the HUB was, Burrage explained that it provided many classes, a seniors drop-in centre, performances, meeting room space, a gym, music, and more: “There’s a lot of stuff. It’s a very happening place.”

Strategic plan

There was a brief discussion about the village’s strategic plan, which was then adopted. The plan notes that due to challenges presented by COVID-19, the ability to make progress on strategic plan initiatives for 2020 was limited. As a result, the 2021 strategic plan is a carry-over of the 2020 plan.

The top priorities of the 2021 strategic plan are an update of the Zoning Bylaw; construction of a new public works building; a five-year economic development marketing plan; a parks master plan; development of an asset management plan, possibly in conjunction with the Village of Ashcroft; securing permanent access to the village woodlot through private property via Lee Sawmill Road; and partnership projects with other entities such as Cache Creek and Ashcroft (bylaw enforcement officer), the TNRD (fire protection area and invasive plants), and the Fraser Basin Council (flood risk assessment).

Five year financial plan

Council adopted the village’s five year financial plan, which shows that there is no property tax increase in 2021 from the 2020 tax rates. The plan was accepted for information at the Dec. 9, 2020 meeting, and since then has had one adjustment: the addition of annual debt servicing of $58,596 for construction of a new public works building (see next item).

Loan authorization

Council approved first, second, and third reading of a bylaw authorizing the borrowing of $1.2 million over a period of 30 years for the construction of a new public works building at Elliott Park. Requests for proposal for construction of the building have been obtained, but funds for the project must be secured before a contract can be awarded.

Park asked for clarification of the process once the bylaw was given third reading. Chief Administrative Officer Murray Daly explained that approval had to be obtained from first the provincial government and then the TNRD, as loan requests from municipalities to the Municipal Finance Authority (MFA) go through the regional district. He added that approval from the public was not necessary due to the village’s excellent loan-carrying capacity and having only one small MFA loan outstanding.

Park also asked if some of the funds received from the Clinton and District Community Forest could be used to decrease the amount of the loan. Daly replied that those monies were yielding a high return, and that it was cheaper to borrow the money. He added that there were other expenses coming up, including the replacement of some fleet vehicles over the next one to two years and the replacement of the primary fire engine in the next three to five years.

“We don’t want to totally exhaust that pot of money to finance a portion of [the public works building cost] and still have to get a loan through MFA,” he said. “It’s better financially to borrow at the low interest rates we’re able to get through MFA and retain that money, either for anything disastrous that comes up that we haven’t planned for or to finance smaller purchases outright like a fleet vehicle or to get us closer to buying that fire truck.”

Chief Financial Officer Mandy McKague noted that the Community Forest funds were never allocated to the public works building, although it had been discussed, and said that council would have to officially allocate some of the funds to be used for that purpose.

Park asked for further clarification about getting the approval of voters for the loan, asking if it was village policy to go to the electors if a loan request was over a certain amount. Daly replied that there is no such village policy, and that it depended on a municipality’s debt level as to whether they had to go to the voters. “Because of our low debt load and [because] we’ve been very fiscally responsible we’re not approaching the level where we have to take it to the electors at this time for this loan.”

The meeting went into closed session at 7:30 p.m.

All minutes and agendas for Clinton council meetings can be found on the Village’s website at https://village.clinton.bc.ca/. Meetings normally take place on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, and begin at 7 p.m. The next regular meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 10.

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