CRD board looks at possible 1.7 per cent budget increase

A Cariboo Regional District town hall meeting was held Jan. 25 at city hall.

The handful of people who attended the Cariboo Regional District town hall meeting Jan. 25 at city hall learned the district board has targeted a maximum tax increase of two per cent for 2012.

“Excluding new and improved services and one-time costs the current proposed budget sits at 1.7 per cent increase,” said Darron Campbell, CRD manager of community services. An additional 0.7 per cent will be factored in for new and one-time services, which could total 2.4 per cent.

The regional district has more than 100 services, ranging from region-wide, such as libraries; sub-regional, most prominently the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex; and local services, where taxpayers pay if they are the only one who benefit, street lamps or fire protection being examples.

Some of the budgets have gone up 10 or 15 per cent, while others went down. Some services have large budgets, while others have very small ones.

“Overall, the entire regional district we tried to balance to have a less than two per cent increase, which we achieved with our 1.7 per cent,” Campbell said.

The total budget for 2011 was $41 million and in 2012 it is dropping to $39.6 million. It varies year over year because of capital projects, he explained.

“In one particular year where we take on capital projects that budget year is higher. It fluctuates depending on the size of the project,” he added.

In 2011, the CRD collected just over $21 million in taxation. In 2012, it will collect just over $21.5 million for an increase of almost half a million. That money, said Campbell, will go toward bylaw enforcement ($122,357), electoral area administration ($59,600), Red Bluff Fire services outside of Quesnel ($32,229),Williams Lake Rural Fire ($31,161), 9-1-1 services ($29,156), contributions for economic development in Areas D and F ($27,500), administration ($10,000) and Deka Lake Fire ($8,611).

Campbell reminded that taxpayers only pay for services in their electoral area.

When it comes to Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District taxation, those rates are on the decrease, thanks to a 10-year-plan adopted in 2011

For a decade the CCRH adopted a capital plan, involving collecting extra taxes to fund projects, resulting in a savings of $1.5 million per year in financing costs.

Over that time period $75 per $100,000 of assessed residential value allowed for a build up of reserves to fund projects.

“Now there’s the ability to lower that tax rate and collect fewer dollars and still fund those projects. The current tax rate is $62 per $100,000, with the  goal being to bring that down to $50 as long as reserve needs are being met,” Campbell said.

Funding has been set aside to meet strategic goals of the hospital district that include recruitment and retention of medical staff in the region, bolstering the educational side of health care training at the University of Northern British Columbia, and encouraging semi-annual updates from health service administrators.

In 2012, the hospital district will collect almost $5.7 million, down from $5.8 million in 2011.

There is still a budget line for the Cariboo Regional Hospital District, a historical district that still exists as a legal entity and has a debt that’s being paid off, but was replaced by the CCRHD.

Citizens are encouraged to respond to the budget and fill out the budget survey available at regional district office.

Final adoption of the five-year-financial plan will be in March and will take place after considering recommendations from the public, Campbell said.

Under the Local Government Act, regional districts must balance their budgets and cannot access deficit financing.

As well, Campbell pointed out, there is no general revenue in the budget.

“Each of our hundred budgets have fire walls within them, meaning money cannot be collected for one budget and expended into another.”