Russell leads RDKB town hall meeting

Residents from area D (rural Grand Forks) got a chance on Feb. 17 to hear a presentation on the upcoming five-year financial plan

Roly Russell

Residents from area D (rural Grand Forks) got a chance on Feb. 17 to hear a presentation on the upcoming five-year financial plan and learn about the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB).

The town hall meeting featured director Roly Russell who talked about his role and the role of the RDKB in governing the region.

“Every year the electoral areas present a town hall meeting where they give an update on what the regional district is and how it came to be and talk about some of the services provided,” said Russell after the meeting. “I thought it was good. Sometimes there are some hot topics that people are excited and/or upset about. I felt there wasn’t anything on the table that was too concerning to people.”

One of the main reasons for doing the town hall meetings is to let residents know about the five-year financial plan and get input on the draft budget.

“We’re right in the thick of the budgeting process…,” said Russell. “If people have strong feelings that projects that ought to be supported or not than this is the time to hear back from people.”

Russell said he has tried hard to keep the requisition tax rate at a stable level. He said it is looking at an increase of less than one per cent.

“There aren’t any big, new projects in the budget,” he said. “That’s not to say I’m not eager to think about some big, new projects but it’s still too early to budget for them because there is a lot of work that would have to go into it.”

Russell said he would love to see a community hall at some point in rural Grand Forks but admits they are a long way from budgeting for it.

He also said that assuming the budget doesn’t change much, residential taxes will have a small increase.

The tax rates are set by the surveyor of taxes based on how much money each regional district area needs.

The general residential tax rate for rural Grand Forks in 2014 was 0.56. Russell explained the 2015 tax rates will come out after area D and other regional districts send their final budgets in.

Russell said there were many good questions asked by residents during question period at the end of the meeting.

“People wanted to know more about the organic recycling (green bin) program,” he said. “I’m thrilled with how this program has been picked because it’s going to save us money. The green bin helps divert waste from filling up the landfill.”

Russell said that as the landfill fills up, the regional district has to be more money into the closure reserve.

“Aside from being an environment win is also a win directly on people’s tax assessments,” he said.

Russell also thanked members of the advisory planning commission (APC), which help advise directors on land issues. He also talked about the animal control contract with the Commissionaires which is going very well.

Last year (2014), RDKB residents paid a total of $7,211,935 in property taxes with $1,560,997 coming from area D. The total annual budget in 2014 was $17,333,155.

In the proposed 2015 budget, the total annual budget is $20,338,821 and the property taxes are $7,136,460 with $1,574,842 from area D residents.

The total tax paid by area D residents is up $13,845 from 2014.

The assessment rate for properties in area D is down 0.92 per cent from 2014 ($393,010,556) to 2015 ($389,393,922).

Most expensive services for RDKB area D are:

Region-wide services:

Environmental planning and zoning at $86,610 (area D contribution – 2015) down $112 from 2014; and

Regionalized waste management at $85,375 (area D contribution – 2015) down $543 from 2014.

Electoral area D services:

Grand Forks rural fire protection at $320,689 (area D contribution – 2015) up $689 from 2014; and Grand Forks Aquatic Centre at $246,225 (area D contribution – 2015) up $8,076 from 2014.