Concept plan for a new fire hall was financed by federal gas tax rebate. (Houston Today photo)

Feds send gas tax rebate money earlier

To be used this year for Hwy16 sidewalk project

It’s not often that someone wants to send you money earlier than expected, but that’s what’s happening at the District of Houston and other local governments.

Billed as a way of helping local governments cope with the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government is advancing its annual gas tax rebate payment.

And it’s coming in one lump sum rather than two by the end of this month or early July, indicates the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

For the District, it means a cheque worth $181,109.53.

By policy direction, the District has been using the money for infrastructure and other projects it could not otherwise finance.

“The 2020 allocation is included in our spending plans for this year, and will assist in the construction of the Highway 16 sidewalk and drainage improvements,” reports District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck.

That project is part of the overall downtown improvement contract work now underway and will happen once the downtown project is completed.

The rebate program is financed by returning an excise tax paid by motorists for every litre of fuel purchased.

Local governments receive their portion based on population determined by the national census.

Last year the District dipped into its accumulated gas tax rebate account to flesh out the financing needed to replace the aging ammonia plant at the arena.

And it’s been used to finance concept plans for an eventual replacement of the community hall and late last year $50,000 was used to commission a concept plan for a new firehall.

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