(Houston Today file photo)

Council holding off on decision regarding 2019 Dungate Community Forest disbursement

Houston Council voted at their July 7 meeting to refer their discussion on disbursement of the 2019 Dungate Community Forest fund to a future Committee of the Whole meeting.

The District, in partnership with its wholly-owned Houston Community Forest Inc. (HCFI), owns the Dungate Community Forest Limited Partnership, which in turn holds a Community Forest Licence Tenure, allowing it to harvest timber from crown land within the Dungate Community Forest.

This year disbursement funds work out to $864,505.00, more than double the $409,292 which was raised last year.

In a report prepared for council by Chief Administrative Officer Gerald Pinchbeck, the CAO noted that it has been standing practice to allocate any funds received from the community forest partnership to capital reserve accounts.

“This has allowed the District to begin planning for major capital infrastructure replacements, such as the replacement of the Community Hall and the reconstruction of the Arena Lobby area,” notes Pinchbeck in his report to council.

He goes on to note that the District currently relies on its reserve and surplus funds to finance its capital project budget.

But while a total amount of $8,546,030 will be withdrawn from reserves over the next five years, Pinchbeck highlighted that less than half of that — only $3,664,940 — will be contributed to reserves from the operating budget.

He went on to note that a number of funding sources are in no way guaranteed

“Of these reserves, the Northern Capital & Planning Grant (“NCGP”) Reserve and Community Hall Reserve will be exhausted at the end of the Financial Planning Period. At present, neither reserve has a sustained and dedicated funding source. However, staff do not recommend replenishing these reserves.”

The CAO recommended allocating the funding to a variety of reserve accounts, including $100,000 to the Fire Department Reserve which will go toward replacing a 1990 Pumper Truck in 2025.

The CAO also recommended putting $264,505 toward its Buildings Reserve, $300,000 toward the General/PW Infrastructure Reserve and $200,000 toward its Public Works Equipment Reserve.

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