The Regional District of Central Kootenay has decided to hire a deputy fire chief in a temporary term position. This decision was ratified Thursday when the RDCK board passed its 2016 budget.
“This second position in fire services will be dedicated to bringing our fire stations up the training standards that have been implemented by the the fire commissioner of BC,” says chief administrator Stuart Horn.
The new position won’t add to budget costs because fire training budgets will be reduced to compensate. In 2017 the board will decide whether to make it more permanent. The RDCK runs 18 rural fire halls.
The 2016 RDCK budget is $48 million. About $24 million comes from taxes, and the rest from federal gas tax funds, payment in lieu of taxes from BC Hydro and Columbia Power, and a capital projects reserve.
Also affecting the budget, the Nelson recreation commission has decided what to do with the money it saved this year — about $780,000 — by not having to pay borrowing costs on a planned loan made unnecessary by a windfall $4.2-million federal government grant for the Nelson pool. This year’s saving of $780,000 will fill the gap between the $5.2-million final cost of the project and the $4.8-million the RDCK originally budgeted for.
As for what to do with those borrowing cost savings in future years, the commission will decide before next year’s budget is prepared.
It’s not easy to say how any new RDCK budget will affect taxpayers. It might involve an increase for some and a decrease for others. That’s because not every resident or community contributes to the same services.
“We have 165 services,” says Horn. “That goes from general administration that everybody in the RDCK pays into, right down to something like a community hall contribution service in Crawford Bay or Edgewood where you would have a very small portion of the population that would participate.
“Depending on where you live and who you share a service with, that has an impact on your tax bill, because whoever you share a service with, and what happened with their assessment, all that enters into the tax calculation. It is not like living in a municipality where everybody pays the same rate and your taxation is related to the bill last year and they will just add on a certain per cent increase.”
As a result of this multitude of services and costs, and the large number of rural communities in the RDCK, this year’s budget is 253 pages long, “the biggest one I have seen since I have been here,” Horn says.
The board on Thursday also formed a committee to advise on agricultural land use matters and comment on applications initiated under the Agricultural Land Commission Act. Representation on the commission is from each of the four commodity groups (fruit, beef, grain and dairy), representing the three rural Creston electoral areas.
The board also approved a budget for a full time water smart ambassador for a four-month term and clarified a previous resolution about motorcycle noise, saying it does not oppose motorcycles, but wants excessive noise regulated.