The RDEK passed their 2015 budget on Friday, which features a 2.2 per cent increase in operating expenditures from 2014, at the monthly meeting of the board of directors,
Total expenditures in the RDEK’s 2015 budget is projected at just over $27 million. That figure includes $14.7 million of the total shared budget, which includes functions such as general administration, CBT community directed funds, building inspection solid waste, and emergency programs, among others.
The non-shred items, which includes, municipal debt payments, service areas and utilities, totals approximately $12.4 million.
There was $592,000 increase in expenditures from 2014 to 2015, $246,000 of which relates to the new Elko Fire and Area A flood control.
From a revenue standpoint, Cranbrook’s requisition to the RDEK totals roughly $2.1 million, while Kimberley paid &758,000. The RDEK is projecting an overall revenue stream of $30.1 million for 2015.
The budget, part of a five-year financial plan, also has a modest tax increase of 1.2 per cent.
“We don’t see a large increase in taxes necessarily this year, so that’s good for the residents,” said Rob Gay, the chair of the board and director for Area C. “I don’t think there’s anything particularly special in the budget this year, it’s a pretty standard budget.”
Gay adds that the Regional District is seeing a lot of interest in accessing different funds that are being made available form the province.
“First of all through a gas tax fund through UBCM that provides our Regional District with about $700,000 and we’re at liberty to spend that on a variety of activities, where in the past we weren’t,” said Gay.
“So that’s really good for us, and the other one is a large strategic grant and we were able to support some letters, so for example, the Columbia Valley is looking for a multi-purpose facility somewhere north of $5 million and our big priority is the Fernie sewer and water project and we’re putting emphasis there,” Gay continued.
“Many of those are stand-alone, we don’t have to contribute money into them, but it’s better if we can come to the table with some money to show that we’re interested.”
Gerry Taft, the mayor of Invermere and an RDEK board director, noted that the amount of money municipalities provide in revenue depends on what services the RDEK offers.
“A lot of the functions and services are established by bylaw and referenda,” Taft said, “so even though sometimes as an individual municipality or participant and you see the requisition or the amount you have to pay from your area increase, the reality is with the way the services work, there’s often some years where there’s nothing you can do about it, so you kind of have to accept that there’s some ebbs and flows.
“Some years, you’re people get punished a little more, and other years, you benefit from other things going on in the rest of the region and sometimes you have to pay a little less “
Some of the newly elected faces around the board table also had a hand in coming up with the budget.
“In terms of the budget for the new people on the board, it was a learning experience for them and I think they pitched in and a lot of good questions were asked,” Gay said.
Those new faces included Cranbrook mayor Lee Pratt and city councillor Tom Shypitka.
“I think it went well,” said Pratt. “It’s been a learning process but we’ve been going through that with the city as well, so we’re getting pretty familiar with the processes now, that’s for sure.”