The RDEK’s annual budget has an average tax increase of 4.6% in 2020, as the operating budget is just shy of $34 million.
At their March meeting on Friday, the RDEK Board of Directors unanimously approved the 2020-2024 Financial Plan.
“What we look at is trying to keep the tax increase to a reasonable rate,” Rob Gay told MyEastKootenayNow.com, RDEK Board Chair. “We all, in our families, in our businesses, deal with inflation and local government is no different.”
Gay said the RDEK is a monstrous document as they review every service in the East Kootenay with zero-based budgeting.
“Our budget is quite complex in that we have over 100 different services,” noted Gay. “We look at every service and start it from scratch. First of all, do the citizens still want it, then we look at the cost of that. Each year, we do basically a service review of every service that we provide so it starts in September and ends in March, it’s line by line, detail by detail.”
Although the average tax increase if 4.6%, that actual increase depends on where you live in the RDEK and your property assessment.
“Within each of the electoral areas and municipalities, there’s a number of services that they participate in, so depending on the service they participate in, that’s what drives what the tax requisition is and what the tax increase is,” Holly Ronnquist told MyEastKootenayNow.com, the RDEK’s Chief Financial Officer.
On average, the RDEK said residential properties in the regional district will see a $12 increase based on an average assessment of $354,000. The RDEK believes the tax calculations will be complete by early-April when the 2020 revised assessed values will be made available.
While the operating budget totals $33.9 million in 2020, the RDEK’s capital budget is $12.1 million. Some of the highlights in the capital budget include the connection of Windermere Water to the treatment plant and upgrading the distribution system, as well as the Hill Road dike project in Electoral Area A.
Here’s a list of other budget highlights from the RDEK:
- Construction of septage ponds in Area B
- Timber Ridge / Eastside Water system looping project
- Completion of Phase 2 of the Fairmont Flood & Debris Control project
- Upgrades in Cold Spring Creek
- Phase 1 of the regional organics composting project
- Fairmont Airport operational funding
- Improvements to the Fairmont Transfer Station access road
- Establishment of Waldo Cove Park in Area B
- Replacement of the Canal Flats Arena chiller
- Archaeological mapping in the Area A Flood Control service boundary
- Replacement of the Lazy Lake water diversion infrastructure
Ronnquist told MyEastKootenayNow.com that the budget process began back in September as they spoke with the RDEK Managers before approaching the RDEK Directors with the draft budget.
“In those discussions, we look at the costs, we carve through some of the items, try to bring the budget in as low as we can and then we move it up to the next notch which is taking it to our directors in February and we have significant discussions, almost line item in some of our services and then we go out to the public.”
Ronnquist said the public was highly engaged in this budget season through engage.rdek.bc.ca while more than 4,000 people reviewed the budget over email.
Although the 2020-2024 Financial Plan has been formally approved by the RDEK, staff will be taking the budget to their Town Hall meetings in May and June to provide further details and information to local residents.
More: 2020 RDEK Budget (RDEK)