Regional hospital budget open for input

Taxation increases to help fund hospital expansions

Taxpayers in the Cariboo-Chilcotin will likely see a taxation increase for hospital services this year, but still have a chance to speak up on what is funded by local government, and what is not.

The Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District (CCRHD) board recently endorsed its 2014 provisional budgets and financial plans. The board members will present these plans to area residents in three upcoming sub-regional consultation meetings.

The overall financial impact to the CCRHD residential tax rate for 2014 will be increased to $70 per $100,000 of residential assessment – about an $8 increase from 2013 taxation levels.

CCRHD chair John Massier says this rate is expected to be maintained for an extended period.

“The main highlight of the financial plan is the board’s decision to accelerate the rate at which we are accumulating the capital reserves needed to pay for our 40 per cent share of the anticipated rebuilding and/or replacement of the two largest health-care facilities in our region – Cariboo Memorial Hospital in Williams Lake and GR Baker Hospital in Quesnel.”

While these projects are in the early planning stages, he notes board members discovered the cost of the upgrades will be much higher than it had anticipated when they began accumulating the reserves several years ago.

“The new [taxation] rates will allow us to add about $1,000,000 extra annually to the reserves, which will reduce future borrowing costs and financial impacts on taxpayers when the projects come to fruition.”

He adds another prominent budget aspect in 2014 will be making the final payment on the historic debt of the Cariboo Regional Hospital District, which will allow the board to dissolve that old entity and continue with only the CCRHD.

While town-hall meetings last fall gathered input of what sort of functions and taxation residents want to see before preparing these plans, feedback is again being sought on the provisional budgets before finalizing them.

In the South Cariboo, the public meeting will take place at District of 100 Mile House council chambers on the evening of Feb. 27 (time to be announced).

That meeting will also present the Cariboo Regional District and the expiring Cariboo Regional Hospital District (CRHD) provisional budgets and financial plans.

100 Mile House Free Press