The Regional District of East Kootenay has adopted its Financial Plan for the years 2017 – 2021. The 2017 operating budget is $28.1 million, which represents an overall decrease of $1,383 from last year. This includes a number of grant-funded items and items that are specific to certain service areas. When those items are set aside, the 2017 operating budget for services shared by most municipalities and electoral areas in the region, represents a 1.8 per cent decrease from 2016. “Our board and staff recognize the importance of balancing the provision of services with keeping taxes in line. We have worked hard to adopt a budget that achieves a good balance,” said RDEK Chair Rob Gay.
It is important to understand that there is a difference between the numbers in the budget and the affect those numbers will have on individual tax rates. Residents of the RDEK will be affected differently, depending on the municipality or electoral area in which they live. On average, residential properties in the RDEK will see approximately a 0.5 per cent overall decrease in their tax levy. While there is a tax decrease in many parts of the region, residential properties in the Columbia Valley Subregion will notice an average increase of 9.8 per cent due largely to increased costs associated with the Columbia Valley Economic Development Service and Columbia Valley Solid Waste.
“Unlike a municipality that has one boundary and one set of taxpayers, different areas of the RDEK require different services and these are paid for only by the taxpayers of each specific service area,” said Gay. “In addition, even though there may be increases in the requisition amount, new development in parts of the region can offset some of that impact on RDEK taxpayers.”
Tax calculations are expected to be complete by early-April when 2017 revised assessed values are available.
Highlights in the 2017 budget include the completion of Phase 1 of the West Fernie Servicing and Restructure Project and construction for Phase 2, a closure plan for the old Kimberley Landfill, a watermain replacement in Moyie, construction of a septage pond in Electoral Area B, completion of the Fairmont Debris Flow Mitigation Project, dam upgrades at Lake Baptiste and Tie Lake (pending funding), and replacement of an HVAC unit and the roof at the RDEK office in Cranbrook. The 5-Year Plan for 2017-2021 was formally adopted by the RDEK Board at its March Board meeting. Copies of the plan and a brief overview can be viewed at www.rdek.bc.ca.