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RDEK budget open for public review with differing tax implications

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With a 2021 operating budget of $37.7-million and a capital budget over $13-million, the Regional District of East Kootenay has made its Draft Five-Year Financial Plan available to the public.

As per the draft version of the budget, most electoral areas will see an increase in taxation, while other areas and communities will actually see a decrease.

Overall the operating budget is proposing a 3.21% increase from 2020, which works out to about $9 for an average residential assessment of $379,000. However, each electoral area or community in the RDEK gets taxed differently depending on the services provided. The average increase accounts for a 1.6% reduction from new assessments in the RDEK.

“Every year our Board and staff work hard to ensure we are striking a balance between providing quality services to our residents and being mindful of the tax impacts. During this pandemic, there is some uncertainty in terms of what service delivery will look like for 2021, so that has added an additional challenge for us this year,” said Rob Gay, Chair of the RDEK. “I’d like to acknowledge the hard work that has gone into this draft plan. I believe it strikes a good balance and we are looking forward to hearing the public’s thoughts.”

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The RDEK provided a tax breakdown for their portion of taxes in the draft budget, which does not include provincial tax or school tax implications:

  • Electoral Area A
    • 0.8% increase ($2)
  • Electoral Area B
    • 2.3% increase ($7)
  • Electoral Area C
    • 0.2% decrease (-$1)
  • Electoral Area E
    • 4.1% decrease – (-$14)
  • Electoral Area F
    • 6.6% increase – ($26)
  • Electoral Area G
    • 5.8% increase – ($22)
  • Central
    • Kimberley – 2.4% increase ($5)
    • Cranbrook – 1.5% decrease (-$3)
  • Elk Valley
    • Fernie – 9.0% increase ($21)
    • Elkford – 7.4% increase ($16)
    • Sparwood – 7.2% increase ($18)
  • Columbia Valley
    • Canal Flats – 6.5% increase ($20)
    • Radium – 3.8% increase ($12)
    • Invermere – 2.4% increase ($8)

The budget also includes several key capital projects for 2021 and beyond. The largest of which is $1.8-million for upgrades toto the Windermere Water Distribution System.

The following is a list of notable projects included in the draft budget:

  • Windermere Water
    • $1.8-million upgrades to distribution system
  • Central Solid Waste
    • New cell
  • Area A Flood Control
    • Hill Road Dike – $1.05-million (75% funding from UBCM grant)
  • Fairmont Flood & Debris Flow Mitigation
    • Cold Spring Creek – Phase 2 completion and upgrades
  • South Country Aquifer/Elko Sinkholes Project
    • $1.35-million (pending $1.2-million grant approval)
  • Hosmer Fire Hall
    • $500,000 – Construct two fire bays and renovate existing building
  • Organics Composting Facilities
    • Elk Valley, Central and Columbia Valley Subregions

A full snapshot of the RDEK’s Draft Five-Year Financial Plan can be found below:

MORE: Draft Five-Year Financial Place – 2021-2025 (RDEK)

Public feedback on the draft budget will be received up until 9:00 am on Monday, March 1st, 2021. The RDEK said copies of the plan and comment forms are available by request at its Cranbrook and Columbia Valley offices, as well as online.

It’s expected that the RDEK Board will approve and adopt the Five-Year Financial Place at their next meeting on March 5th following the public comment period.

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