Updated 3 pm: A new bylaw will provide a necessary tool to the Cariboo Regional District to react to events as they transpire during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The approval of the $13-million revenue anticipation borrowing bylaw follows Friday morning’s Board meeting in which most Area Directors attended by teleconference.
CRD Chair Margo Wagner calls it a common occurrence for a lot of municipalities and regional district boards.
“It’s merely a bylaw that should the province decide to because they’re already talking about delaying the property tax deadline, if they haven’t already done so, and that’s what we get our funds from to run business and service in the CRD,” she said.
Wagner adds the CRD has not adopted such a bylaw before as they have had sufficient funds to get the District through until August of each year at which time they get the funding from the property taxes.
“This is a just in case issue,” she said. “The other thing too is as more and more services are closed down we may find depending on how long this goes on for [COVID-19 pandemic] that we’re actually not using as much money as we normally do and so, therefore, we may be able to then provide our own funds that will allow us to not have to borrow because we really don’t want to borrow. That’s not what we like to do, but in these circumstances, it was just felt that we needed to have that bylaw in place just in case.”
The CRD’s emergency operations centre is currently operating at level-1 (low-risk).
Staff says while the CRD is maintaining many of its operations, certain services have been idled or significantly reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They add because it is currently difficult to estimate when these services will be reopened to the public, it is difficult to estimate with any certainty the impact the pandemic will have on the revenues of affected services.
“At this point, the bylaw is essentially a precautionary move rather than a commitment to borrow any funds,” said Manager of Communications, Chris Keam.
(Note: This article has been updated to include comment from CRD Chair Margo Wagner)