RDCK Area I and J directors say their constituents treated unfairly in province’s COVID Restart Grant program

Directors say funding formula is “unfair, inequitable, unconscionable, and unbelievable”

Rick Smith was elected as Area J director in the Regional District of Central Kootenay.

Submitted by Andy Davidoff, RDCK Director, Electoral Area I and Rick Smith, RDCK Director, Electoral Area J

Dear Premier Horgan and Ministers Conroy, Robinson and Osborne,

We are writing this joint letter on behalf of our 5,671 constituents in RDCK Electoral Areas I & J and are appealing to you to treat our ratepayers fairly, and to allocate the same per capita COVID-19 Restart Grant funding to them as you have provided to municipal ratepayers in BC, to offset our revenue losses and COVID-19 related expenditures.

We would like to share the severe impact of not doing so by sharing with you what is happening in our Castlegar & District sub-region.

The City of Castlegar received $2,184,000 of COVID-19 Restart Grant funds which represents $271.68 for each of its 8,039 residents.

If our Area I and J ratepayers received $271.68 for each of our 5,671 residents we would have $1,540,697 to help offset our revenue losses and COVID-19 related expenditures and reductions to taxation.

The city has allocated some of that money for a full-time bylaw officer and to support operations at its airport and set the rest aside for future use.

The city just passed a 2021 budget with a 3.88-per-cent lift in taxation which includes any amounts it collects for the Regional District which will be 0.94 per cent or less in 2021. This is a 50-per-cent reduction in its planned 7.6-per-cent taxation increase in 2021.

The nine municipalities in the RDCK received a total of $8,643,000 of COVID-19 Restart Grant Funds. This represents $303.03 for each of the 30,901 municipal residents in the RDCK.

The RDCK received a total of $760,000 of COVID-19 Restart Grant Funds to offset our revenue losses and COVID-19 related expenditures.

This amount is based on a $300,000 base amount, a total of $3.10 per resident and an additional $8.13 per rural resident. This falls far short of the level of funding received by our municipal partners.

City of Castlegar ratepayers are receiving $271.68/resident, because they participate in joint RDCK services with us, so, the city is reducing taxation increases by almost 50 per cent in 2021 and are not required to use any of their COVID-19 Restart Grant funding to offset losses in any joint services with us.

Not accounting for the base amount, our Area I and J residents are receiving $11.23/resident which is 24 times or 2419 per cent less than residents in the City of Castlegar which is unfair, inequitable, unconscionable, and unbelievable!

RELATED: City of Castlegar gets $2.18 million in COVID relief funding

The RDCK owns three major recreation complexes, including the ones in Nelson, Castlegar and Creston, with millions of dollars of revenue losses but is somehow expected to absorb or pass on these losses to our electoral area ratepayers.

The RDCK is a federation that serves rural and municipal residents and should receive more COVID-19 Restart Grant Funds as a whole because of all the services we offer and supply to our municipalities such as recreation, resource recovery and building inspection. No municipality with our population has the revenue exposure that we do.

We are receiving calls and emails from irate constituents who are not aware of the disparity of COVID-19 Restart Grant funding between municipalities and electoral areas and are alarmed by the projected increases in taxation for them in 2021.

There is something patently unfair, to us and our electoral area ratepayers, with your COVID-19 Restart Grant funding formula, and we are appealing to you to correct this immediately so that we could also minimize the impact of taxation on our constituents during this pernicious pandemic and reduce their already heightened level of anxiety.

Respectfully requested,

Andy Davidoff, RDCK Director, Electoral Area I

Rick Smith, RDCK Director, Electoral Area J



betsy.kline@castlegarnews.com

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Andy Davidoff is Area I director in the Regional District of Central Kootenay. Photo: Jennifer Small

Andy Davidoff is Area I director in the Regional District of Central Kootenay. Photo: Jennifer Small