PORT McNEILL—The matter of municipal governance is commonly thought to be votes on how to spend money collected from local taxpayers.
During its last meeting, however, Port McNeill’s Town Council was happy to vote to accept funds.
First on the agenda was a $2,594 dividend cheque from the Municipal Insurance Association of BC, which covers the Town and other municipalities in the province against potential liability claims.
Beginning in 2002, MIABC began returning money to member communities by subsidizing reinsurance costs.
“Essentially what they’re doing is they’re making sure that we — and they — are covered,” Mayor Gerry Furney explained. “Obviously, if they’re overcharging a bit, for safety sake, at least it’s paid back when we can go through a season without any major claims.”
Town administrator Sue Harvey confirmed to council that there were no liability claims against the Town in the past year.
Council was also notified the Town had received its second $100,000 deposit in as many years from the North Island Community Forest, and voted to place the money in a reserve account that will provide matching funds for infrastructure and other potential grants.
The Community Forest is a joint venture owned in partnership by the Village of Port Alice, the District of Port Hardy and the Town of Port McNeill, and established in 2011 under the management of an independent board.
Sales of timber from the forest have provided both a working capital fund and dividends, in equal shares, to the three partner communities.
“At the AGM they said it was very favourable that we could get another (cheque) before the end of the year,” coun. Shirley Ackland said. “Part of the reason is (the board) can only keep $350,000 in their operating fund. And the last block they cut, they got it at a good price, before any of the prices had fallen.”
The 2014 funds will be added to the $100,000 Community Forest distribution from 2013 and placed into the reserve account established by council vote at that time.
“The benefit I see to it is it gives us reserves — fairly healthy reserves — without having to increase taxes to create reserves,” said Furney. “I have a bit of a problem when people start taxing for something that we have no idea what we’re doing with the money.”