The Regional District of East Kootenay adopted a $30.5 million operating budget last week as part of a financial plan that will guide the local government body for the next five years.
The 2018 budget represents a seven per cent increase over last year that has resulted in a 1.3 per cent increase in taxation.
“Our Board and staff recognize the importance of balancing the provision of services with keeping taxes in line and I believe we are once again striking a good balance in this year’s budget,” says RDEK Chair Rob Gay.
The RDEK is broken up into six distinct electoral boundaries in outlying rural areas of East Kootenay communities and each area could face different individual taxation rate, but on average, residential properties within RDEK boundaries will see a 0.5 per cent decrease in tax levy.
“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,” explains 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.”
Notable items in the 2018 budget include a Solid Waste Management Plan Review and audit, along with increases in recycling and landfill operation costs.
Other large spending initiatives include a grant of up to $300,000 to the Akisq’nuk First Nation that will be used for a recreation centre, while $130,000 was provided to the Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association for their fundraising campaign to build an indoor sports facility in Cranbrook.
Funding was also included for a new Elk Valley transit bus and mobile inspection software that will help improve the efficiency of building inspections.
The RDEK also included its fulfilment of a $260,000 commitment for the Cranbrook Homeless Shelter should the province decide to move forward with the project this year.
$14 million was budgeted to larger capital projects that included completion of West Fernie Service and Restructure, the Windermere Water Upgrade project and purchase of the water treatment plant and updates to dams on Tie Lake and Lake Baptiste. The government also completed all four phases of the Westside Legacy Trail and Fairmont Flood and Debris Flow Control project.