By Steve Hubrecht
[email protected]

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) board of directors approved its latest five-year plan at its March meeting.

The plan includes a 2021 operating budget of $37.7 million and a capital budget of slightly more than $14 million. The $37.7 million operating budget represents a 3.2 per cent budget increase for 2021 as compared with 2020, which works out to an extra nine dollar per home in the RDEK (based on an average regional house assessment value of $379,000). The RDEK is reminding residents that the actual amount difference they see in their tax bill will vary quite widely, not just on how much more (or how much less) their home value differs from the average, but also on which RDEK services areas they are (or are not) a part of.

Some of the bigger capital expenditure project entailed in that $14 million 2021 capital budget are right here in the Columbia Vally, including nearly $1.8 million for upgrades for the Windermere water system, more than $3.8 million for completion of phase two of Fairmont flood and debris control efforts and phase one of the Cold Spring Creek debris flow mitigation project in Fairmont, and nearly $2 million spent on setting up the RDEK’s three organic composting facilities (one of is slated to be in the Columbia Valley).

The operating budget contained some COVID-19 induced savings, as RDEK spending on training and conventions was reduced by 29 per cent to reflect reduced travel for onsite events during the first half of 2021.

“Every year our board and staff work hard to ensure we are striking a balance between providing quality services to our residents and being mindful of the tax impacts. During this pandemic, there is some uncertainty in terms of what service delivery will look like for 2021, so that has added an additional challenge for us this year,” said RDEK board chair Rob Gay in a press release prior to the adoption of the financial plan. “I’d like to acknowledge the hard work that has gone into this draft plan.”