PORT McNEILL—Gerry Furney confirmed Monday evening that he will not stand to extend his run as B.C.’s longest-serving mayor.
On the other hand, he’s hardly going quietly into that good night.
In response to a summary by treasurer Dan Rodin to council that it could choose to establish reserve accounts to set aside funds for infrastructure and equipment needed at a later date, Furney did not mince words.
“I’m not in favour of it,” the mayor said. “I think back over the last 40 years, we never, ever did anything like that. We never went broke, and we never charged the taxpayer for stuff that they really didn’t need.”
The discussion of reserve accounts actually followed some good news from Rodin’s financial report, which indicated the Town would end the year debt-free.
“That presents an opportunity,” he said.
Rodin did explain to council there were two ways to handle the needed replacement of equipment — such as the Town’s aging fleet of work vehicles. One was the formation of bylaw reserve accounts, in which today’s taxpayer fronts money to be used as needed for scheduled asset replacement and repair. The other waits for the need, at which point the taxpayer who benefits is the one who pays.
“You do it the year you absolutely need it,” Rodin said in answer to the Mayor. “When the issue arises and you need to deal with it, that’s the year you deal with it. And that works perfectly well, too. It’s more of a philosophical thing than anything else. It works fine either way.”
Furney said Rodin was welcome to draft a reserve fund proposal and discuss it with council, but wanted to go on record that he wanted no part of it.
“This is not a Cadillac community,” Furney said. “This is a basic logging camp with some frills around it, with some tourism and other assets. I can’t see the sense in charging the taxpayer money, putting it aside and sitting there with it.
“You’re probably aware I’m not running in the next election, so I feel very good about being able to leave my stamp on the community where we haven’t frittered away money unnecessarily planning on things that never happened.”
Council gave approval to first, second and third readings of a Permissive Tax Exemption bylaw that clarifies and extends the terms for non-profit and church groups to request exemption from property taxes for up to four years. The current system requires applying for tax exemption each year.
Also approved was third reading of a zoning bylaw allowing for a college or other instructional use for commercial property on Broughton Boulevard in the downtown core.
Finally, council approved first, second and third readings of Additional Accommodation Tax Levy Bylaw 655, the two per cent room tax to fund tourism promotion.
Dog park request
Kathryn Hawrys and Nick Adair submitted a proposal to council to establish a fenced, off-leash park for dogs on Town property. Citing the benefits of socialization for both dogs and dog owners, as well as potential reduction in current bylaw violations, the pair suggested the area known as Triangle Park on Haddington Crescent, and offered to set up a funding committee to raise the approximately $4,000 needed for purchase and installation of fencing.
In exchange, the two requested Town contributions of a waste receptacle, signage and park maintenance, for which the Town is currently responsible. Four other residents were in attendance to support the request, including owners of Robin’s Pet Shop and East of Java, who said their businesses would support and contribute toward such a park.
Furney thanked the delegation for its submission and said the Town and Council would review it.