OUR VIEW FEB. 6: West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital District needs more information

The regional hospital district should seek more input before deciding on whether to raise taxes for a hopsital reserve fund.

As financial advisers will tell you, it’s always good to save for that proverbial “rainy day.”

Whether with RRSPs, or however people decide to squirrel away their money, it’s always good to put some money aside.

It is a concept that some on the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital District (WKBRHD) want to employ as Interior Health wants to build a hospital in the next five to 10 years at a yet-to-be-determined area.

Property taxes could be increased and the money would be added to a reserve fund.

Nothing is set in stone yet, as the WKBRHD will decide at a meeting on Feb. 27.

Nevertheless, three options that WKBRHD board members are asking constituents about are $5.96 per $10,000 of assessed value annually, which would create a $1 million reserve; $12.27 annually for a $2 million reserve or $18.58 yearly for a reserve of $3 million.

While it is good to put aside money, there are a number of problems with what the WKBRHD is seeking.

For one, there is no real public consultation in the matter.

Yes some board members have talked to the media and there is a story in this week’s Grand Forks Gazette but what about a public forum where there can be more discourse?

The regional hospital district probably won’t know the feelings of people in the district save for letters to the editor of various newspapers and what constituents tell board members.

This is a big issue, as most tax increases or proposed tax increases are, and while it is certain board members will seek and hear from the people they represent, they might not hear the sort of information and opinions that would come from a public forum.

The hospital won’t even be built in the foreseeable future and if the increases are approved, property owners will be taxed for something that doesn’t even have a plan yet.

Also, will people at one end of the district be happy about being taxed for a hospital at the other end of the district even though the hospital would be regional?

The WKBRHD is about to make a big decision and it should seek more information before the decision is made.

– Grand Forks Gazette

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