Regional town-hall meetings provide budget insight

Some 30 residents of 108 Mile Ranch and Lac la Hache were the first to see what the CRD has in store for 2012

Some 30 residents of 108 Mile Ranch and Lac la Hache were the first to see what the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) has in store with its plans for 2012.

The CRD Area G town-hall meeting at the 108 Community Hall on Jan. 11 kicked off a series input-seeking gatherings being held until Feb. 6, where residents are given an overview of its proposed budget and five-year financial plan.

The CRD is looking for public input before adopting its final version in March.

CRD Area G Director Al Richmond made a presentation that included visual graphics, such as pie charts, where taxpayers in attendance could easily see where their hard-earned dollars go.

Across the regional district, less than half of the average property taxes go to the CRD, and the province gets the rest, Richmond said.

About three-quarters of it funds CRD services, accounting for about 54 per cent of its total budget, and the rest goes into the Cariboo-Chilcotin Regional Hospital District (CCRHD).

The CRD’s proposed 2012 budget is $39,640,957, compared to $41,031,413 in 2011, with the remainder after taxes funded by a 22 per cent operating surplus and various grants, fees, loans and other smaller contributors.

The board chair explained almost one-third of the total budget funds recreation, another 30 per cent is environmental or protective services.

“Some people brought up the [issue of getting a swimming] pool, and where are we at with the pool, and we said we are [initially] trying to put together a means to deal with some of the existing facilities that we have, that are not funded through recreation.”

These include Martin Exeter Hall and the soccer fields in 100 Mile House, Richmond added. “We’re trying to create a vision for recreation, which we’ll be taking it out to the community this year.”

Updates on water and sewer services and BC Hydro’s new smart meters were provided, and he noted the new water system at 108 Mile Ranch did not increase related taxation, and the Lac la Hache water bill won’t go up this year.

“People were generally happy and pleased their water rates hadn’t increased.”

The proposed budget allocates $50,000 for a program specifically for 108 Mile Ranch residents to exchange up to two toilets of 13 litres or more for low-flush (six litres or less).

The issue of barking dogs disturbing residents was also discussed at the meeting, Richmond said.

“We believe be have a people problem, not a dog problem … we’re trying to let people know there are rules and regulations provincially that require people to maintain control of their dogs.

“And, if they’re running loose and caught chasing our wildlife, that [the dogs] will be destroyed by a conservation officer.”

Other discussions included lowering the CRD’s carbon emissions, Solid Waste Management Plan and some upcoming emergency-planning open houses.

The CCRHD goals and priorities were also reviewed, and include a recruitment and retention policy for medical professionals.

In line with the CRD’s long-term goals, the hospital district budget and related taxation is continuing to decline, partly due to a reduced debt burden, he explained.

Three other town halls are slated in the South Cariboo for areas L and the District of 100 Mile House, and all of them also include a general discussion of local topics of interest. Details are available online at www.cariboord.bc.ca.

The District of 100 Mile House town-hall meeting will be held at the council chambers on Jan. 26, starting at 7 p.m.

The Area L meeting is slated for Feb. 6 at the Watch Lake Community Hall, starting at 7 p.m.