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Coun. Graham votes against Creston CBT benefits

A resolution that will increase the dollars available to Creston and Regional District of Central Kootenay Area B under the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) initiatives program by $17,000 next year passed by one vote at the April 12 RDCK board meeting.

The narrow result raised the ire of Area K (Arrow Lakes) director Paul Peterson, who introduced the motion after getting support from a number of directors before the meeting. Creston alternate director Wesly Graham voted against the motion after making a motion to support the resolution at a recent Creston town council meeting.

Graham’s negative vote left Peterson wondering what had happened, but thankful that his resolution still carried.

“I guess I can only say it was an oversight,” Graham said on Monday. “In my defense, I only got the 343-page agenda (the meeting included discussion about the 2011-2012 budget) 10 hours before the meeting, and eight of those hours were for sleep.

“I only attend two or three RDCK board meetings a year as an alternate and the mayor didn’t point out that the resolution was coming up at the April 12 meeting — I thought it had already been dealt with.”

“To be honest, the previous system was working fine but I wouldn’t have felt good if my vote cost Creston organizations money.”

Mayor Ron Toyota said on Tuesday that there is no legal requirement for a municipal director, who is elected by a town or city council, to vote the wishes of his or her council.

“But he made the motion at council, so I was surprised to learn that he voted against the resolution,” said Toyota, who was away on holidays last week. “I think Coun. Graham will have to explain what happened to his fellow council members and they will decide what to do.”

The previous CBT initiatives program formula assigned a pot of money to be divided among the RDCK districts on a combined basis of population and assessed property values. Peterson said other regional districts in the Columbia Basin use only the population to distribute their funds and he thought it was a fairer and simpler way to allocate the funds.

Under the new system, Creston will receive an additional  $8,509 in 2012 and Area B will be the top gainer with an extra $8,541. Area A (Wynndel and East Shore) stands to lose $8,439 because of high lake property values and Castlegar will receive $8,185 less, largely because it has a high industrial tax base. Peterson’s Area K will actually receive $667 less than it would under the old formula.

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