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Kootenay and Boundary local governments call on the province to help fix local government funding
Local Governments provide a broad range of services for their constituents and cannot continue to do so given the current funding formula of 8 cents on the dollar. 60 local government officials, from communities throughout southeastern BC, met with the Executive Board of the Association of Kootenay and Boundary Local Governments on Friday, October 19, to discuss the need for a new approach to distributing provincial revenues to municipalities.
At the end of their day-long meeting, the Association of Kootenay & Boundary Local Governments (AKBLG), in support of the work to date of the BC Mayors’ Caucus, endorsed the following statement:
“The Association of Kootenay & Boundary Local Governments recommends the replacement of ad hoc grant funding with a long term revenue sharing formula.
- Your local government will maintain its infrastructure and continue to deliver needed services on a daily basis;
- Sufficient, predictable funding will ensure each local government can fund their different needs; and,
- All elected officials will be able to plan and budget according to established needs and priorities through collaboration with other government agencies and levels of government.”
Members of the Association outlined specific concerns that need to be addressed as part of ending the use of ad hoc funding and grants:
- The sharing and distribution of revenues between the three levels of government must reflect the true cost of the partnership and the responsibilities that are assigned to local governments;
- Funding levels must be realistic, and reflect the actual cost of programs that local governments are required to deliver;
- Local governments need ongoing predictable funding so that budgets, infrastructure and programs can be planned in the long term;
- If Provincial and/or Federal regulatory changes affect delivery of basic services, such as water and sewage treatment, the departments and agencies involved must help provide the funds required by local government to implement these changes.
Wesly Graham, Councillor, Town of Creston, and Past-President of the AKBLG, says“We want to make the public aware that when the Province and Federal government shift responsibilities to local governments, this impacts our ability to pay for priorities mandated by our local tax payers.”
Andy Shadrack, Director of Area D, of the Regional District of Central Kootenay, and President of the AKBLG Executive, added that “We want the Province to work with us to end the policy of having local governments compete against each other for grants. We believe that every local government should be treated as a partner when it comes to long term planning and budgeting for our infrastructure”.
Mayor Christina Benty, of Golden, and Vice-President of AKBLG, says, “It is time the Province realized that downloading implementation and cost of delivering services to local government – simply shifts the burden from income and sales taxpayers to those who pay property taxes. It does not actually look at how we might partner to deliver a program more efficiently and effectively”.
Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetskinoted that “The current approach to ad hoc grants distorts community priorities and makes long term planning for infrastructure and community services extremely difficult – what we need is consistent, predictable funding that allows us to plan and budget for the next five years”.
The AKBLG, established in 1933, is the local government association that represents the municipalities and electoral areas of the south-eastern portion of British Columbia. The area includes the Regional Districts of Kootenay Boundary, Central Kootenay, East Kootenay, and a number of communities, including the Town of Golden, the City of Cranbrook, the Cities of Nelson, Castlegar, Trail, Grand Forks and the Town of Creston.
Members of the AKBLG Executive Board are:
· Andrew Shadrack - Director, RDCK - Area D - President
· Christina Benty - Mayor, Town of Golden - Vice President
· Wesly Graham - Councillor, Town of Creston - Past President
· Rob Gay - Director, RDEK - Area C and Chair RDEK
· Deb Kozak - Councillor, City of Nelson
· Gerry Taft - Mayor, District of Invermere
· Cher Wyers, Councillor, City of Grand Forks
· Hilary Elliot, Councillor , Village of Slocan and Vice Chair RDCK
· Patricia Cecchini - Mayor, Village of Fruitvale