The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) is initiating an alternative approval process for financing a new fire truck for the Barlow Creek Volunteer Fire Department.
The CRD’s Barlow Creek and Deka Lake volunteer fire departments both require new fire trucks in 2020 to meet certification requirements, and the CRD is holding alternative approval processes (AAP) to approve using 10-year financing for the purchases, according to a press release from the CRD.
CRD board members voted to begin the AAP process for both fire departments at their Jan. 17 meeting in Williams Lake.
“Both Barlow Creek and Deka Lake volunteer fire departments need to replace one of their fire trucks so that their trucks meet Canadian certification requirements,” John Massier, CRD Vice-Chair and Electoral Area C (Bowron Lake-Barlow Creek-Barkerville) Director, said in the release. “If the trucks are not replaced, property owners will not qualify for fire insurance discounts within those fire protection areas.”
To lower the impact on taxes, the CRD is using 10-year debt financing, rather than five-year financing. This model spreads out the purchasing cost, creates the least impact on tax rates and helps the fire department build up savings for future maintenance and truck replacements, according to the regional district.
“Major purchases like this can have a significant impact on taxes,” said Massier. “We think using a 10-year financing model is the best way to keep tax rates manageable.”
The fire truck will cost about $455,000.
Under the 10-year financing model, the Barlow Creek Fire Protection Area budget will see an overall tax increase of 3.4 per cent each year over the next five-year financial plan (2020-2024), which includes both the property and parcel tax. If the fire truck was purchased with five-year financing, there would need to be a 25-per-cent property tax increase in 2020 and a 3.5-per-cent increase in years 2021 to 2024, according to the CRD.
“Many thanks to the volunteers at the Barlow Creek Volunteer Fire Department,” said Massier. “Not only will this new truck support their efforts, but it means that residents in the fire protection can continue to get discounts on their property insurance.”
Local governments need residents’ permission to enter into debt financing arrangements longer than five years. To gather that permission, the Regional District has chosen to use an AAP to purchase new fire engines for Barlow Creek and Deka Lake.
An AAP is a “reverse” form of public assent where the proposed change will go ahead unless at least 10 per cent of the eligible voters submit a signed Elector Response Form saying they are against the proposal. This means the CRD will purchase the trucks through 10-year financing unless 10 per cent of the residents in the specific fire protection areas object.
If qualified electors in the Barlow Creek fire protection areas are fine with the CRD using 10-year financing to purchase the fire truck, they do not need to do anything.
If they are opposed, they need to submit a signed official Elector Response Form by 4 p.m. on March 2, 2020.
Visit cariboord.ca/firedepartments to find Elector Response Forms and a Frequently Asked Questions document for each AAP.
The CRD recently held a successful AAP for new fire trucks in Kersley, Lone Butte and Forest Grove in May. Last spring, the CRD said it is looking to replace 14 fie trucks before 2023.