Residents of Area E need to buy a library card to use the Nelson Public Library. If they vote in favour of being taxed for it instead, their library cards will be free. File photo

Residents of Area E need to buy a library card to use the Nelson Public Library. If they vote in favour of being taxed for it instead, their library cards will be free. File photo

Rural Area E residents to be consulted on tax support for Nelson library

Area F and part of Area H already contribute to the library

By Timothy Schafer

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A process is underway that could draw the entirety of electoral Area E into the Nelson Public Library service, delivering access that sustains both sides.

Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) staff have been instructed to prepare a service establishment bylaw for electoral Area E’s library contribution service “subject to staff conducting a public consultation process.”

Area E includes Blewett, Balfour, Queens Bay, Longbeach, Harrop/Procter, Sunshine Bay, Bealby/Horlicks, Taghum Beach and the rural area from Nelson to Cottonwood Lake.

Support for the bylaw — that would allow Area E to help fund the Nelson Public Library — will be will gauged by means of alternative approval process, said RDCK research analyst Tom Dool.

The RDCK board of directors needs to give three readings to a service establishment bylaw, Dool explained.

“Then staff will work with the Nelson Public Library to engage the community in electoral Area E to ensure they understand the costs and benefits associated with the service,” he said.

There is a fair piece of work that needs to happen before the public consultation process, Dool explained.

A public consultation meeting won’t be held until an agreement is pulled together with the existing partners: the City of Nelson, Area F, and Area H.

“That will inform the amount levied by the service as a contribution on the part of Area E,” said Dool.

Currently, electoral Area F and a defined portion of electoral Area H have established services for the purpose of providing a financial contribution to the Nelson Public Library. Both services levy taxation for the service based on the assessed value of land and improvements within the service area.

Maximum contribution levels have been set, with electoral Area F having a maximum annual allowable contribution of $101,250, while the defined portion of electoral Area H has a maximum annual allowable contribution of $72,500.

Those amounts were determined using a population-based formula at the time of service establishment in 2010. Since that time, contributions have increased by two per cent annually while population has not.

“Current amounts no longer adhere to a population-based formula because population has grown disproportionately in the defined portion of Area H and base amounts have not been adjusted accordingly,” Dool noted in his report to the board.

The amount contributed for library service per person in electoral Area F is $21.51, while the amount contributed for library services in the defined portion of electoral Area H is $15.58 per person.

“There is no rationale for applying either rate to Area E to determine a per resident based contribution amount,” the RDCK staff report noted. “Based on the principal of comparable rates for comparable services Area E could be expected to contribute between $98,501 and $102,356 to the Nelson Public Library Service.”

Considering the proposed requisition amount the annual taxation for an average $400,000 assessed property would be $27.57.

It was estimated that around 37 per cent of Area E residents would likely hold library membership if it was funded through taxation (based on 42 per cent in Area F and 29 per cent in defined Area H).

Salmo and Area G

A similar scenario is unfolding in electoral Area G and the Salmo Library Service.

The board directed RDCK staff to repeal and replace the Salmo and Portion of Electoral Area G Library Financial Aid Service Bylaw in order to prepare a service establishment bylaw for the Salmo and Electoral Area G Library Financial Aid Service.

But, just as with Area E, the bylaw is contingent upon RDCK staff conducting a public consultation process — and that voter approval, for the bylaw, be undertaken by means of alternative approval process this summer.

Currently, the Salmo and Portion of Electoral Area G Library Financial Aid Service Bylaw funds library services within Village of Salmo and a defined portion of Electoral Area G.

“The defined portion of Area G is inclusive of properties within the numbered highway corridors throughout the electoral area but does not include a number of large private holdings outside of the more heavily populated areas,” noted the RDCK staff report. “These properties include a substantial component of residential assessment and represent a lost opportunity in regards to library funding.”

The maximum annual allowable requisition for the service, defined in Bylaw 791 as amended, is $112,109. The current means of cost recovery is limited to taxation.