Council lays out federal gas tax spending plan

Included is arena ammonia plant replacement

The District of Houston has laid out an extensive plan to spend accumulated federal gas tax grants its received, a good portion of which will go to replacing the aging ammonia refrigeration plant at the arena.

The plan was approved at a council finance committee meeting April 10 and went to a full council session last night as part of the preparation leading to the district’s annual budget and accompanying property tax and other bylaws.

To date the District has approximately $1.3 million in accumulated federal gas tax rebates and is receiving $375,288 this year for a total of nearly $1.7 million, explained District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck.

From that total it’s assigning $893,572 to the following projects:

– $476,072 to flesh out the financing for $816,072 replacement of the aging ammonia plant at the arena

– $50,000 for a concept plan aimed at replacing the firehall.

– $40,000 for crosswalk light at Mountainview and Hagman

– $25,000 to replace the flower beds at Steelhead Park

– $27,500 to put a roof over the pedestrian walking bridge at 14th Street

– $30,000 to help finance a utilities assessment management plan projected to cost $40,000

– $25,000 for a concept plan for a community hall replacement project

– $25,000 for the design of an outdoor skating rink

– $100,000 for the replacement of the backup pool boiler

– $20,000 for a plan to upgrade the Jamie Baxter Park

– $25,000 for a design plan to replace the arena lobby.

“At the end of the year, this should leave us with $799,400 in deferred gas tax revenue,” said Pinchbeck.

“We also anticipate receiving $749,754 in gas tax funding between 2020 and 2023 based on current projections, and utilizing a further $1.085 million over the next five years to support capital projects and planning.”

The gas tax rebate program is financed by motorists and others who pay an excise tax with every litre of fuel purchased.

Monies are then returned to local governments in B.C. through a program administered by the Union of B.C. Municipalities with amounts for each local government largely determined by census data.

In the first year of the first five-year agreement in 2014, Houston received $176,433.

And for 2019, which is the first year of a renewed five-year up until 2023, the District is to receive $181,110.

But all municipalities are also to receive a bonus payment this year based on census numbers and for Houston, that amounts to an additional $194,178.

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