The Regional District of the East Kootenay (RDEK) is set to adopt a new five-year financial plan but is seeking public input first.
The plan details how the RDEK will spent some $33.9 million in operating expenses and $12.5 million in capital expenses in 2020 on the more than 100 services run by the regional government body. Public comments on the plan are being accepted until noon on Monday, March 2.
“The RDEK board has completed its first review of the financial plan; however, the work on the plan is certainly far from complete,” said RDEK board chair Rob Gay in a press release. “Staff will continue to meet with directors, other municipalities, and various commissions over the coming weeks and a public comment period will be open until the first Monday in March.”
The operating expenses for 2020 are 5.6 per cent higher than in 2019. The extra cost entails a 4.9 per cent tax increase (which will roughly work out to an additional $12 or so in tax on an average $350,000 home).
Several of the major projects with big price tags outlined in the capital and operating expenses in the five-year plan are here in the Columbia Valley, including finally connecting the Windermere water system to the new water treatment plant and upgrading the distribution system (which comes with a $4.5 million price tag), the Timber Ridge/Eastside water system looping project (almost $1.9 million with a further nearly $300,000 in operating costs), and completing phase two of the Fairmont flood and debris control project and related upgrades in Cold Spring Creek ($220,000). There are also phase one of the regional organics composting project ($298,000), two new water tenders – one for the Fairmont fire department and one for the Windermere fire department ($353,000 each; $706,000 total) – a new fire engine for the Edgewater fire department ($433,000), replacing the chiller in the Canal Flats arena ($125,000), the Fairmont transfer station access road ($48,500), and cover material for the Columbia Valley solid waste program ($100,000).
“As a board, our focus is always on finding a responsible balance between providing quality services to our residents and minimizing the tax impacts. It is often a balancing act and we feel we have achieved a fair balance with this plan,” said Gay. “The plan will come back before the board next month and we encourage people to let us know their thoughts through the public comment period.”
Copies of the plan and comment forms are available on engage.rdek.bc.ca/budget and through RDEK’s Cranbrook and Invermere offices.
The five year financial plan will likely be adopted during the RDEK board’s Friday, March 6 meeting.