Burns Lake victims service gets RDBN nod

Proposed cooperation between rural and municipal tax base protects valuable service.

The Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) has responded positively to a Village of Burns Lake (VBL) request for financial assistance in running the Burns Lake Police Victims Service (PVS).

The Village of Burns Lake has been subsidizing the service over and above provincial funding for more than 20 years. The village’s contribution, provincial funding, and other shorter term funding sources have helped to provide an important service in Burns Lake and area.

According to statistics tracked by PVS, RDBN areas B and E each account for approximately 20 per cent of total users of the service based in Burns Lake (see Oct. 30, 2013 Victim services threatened). Based on those statistics, VBL invited the RDBN to consider contributing to annual funding.

The village was hoping to find increased funding for the program so that a permanent, full-time assistant coordinator could be hired.

A second full-time position would have required approximately $87,000 in total funding, but the RDBN was not in favour of that move.

“They [the RDBN] were in favour of keeping the status quo and not increasing the service,” VBL chief administrative officer Sheryl Worthing said.

The RDBN returned with a proposal to contribute to the Burns Lake PVS based on a 60/20/20 split, where Burns Lake would contribute 60 per cent, and areas B and E would contribute 20 per cent each. The maximum would be capped at $20,000 annually, combined.

The proposal from the RDBN will allow Burns Lake PVS to continue as it does now with one full-time staff member and one part-time member.

The funds would come out of property tax on improvements and show up as a single line item on property tax statements showing the funds as allocated for the ‘Burns Lake and area victims services’ service’.

According to the RDBN and based on 2013 assessments, the tax impact of the PVS proposal is 0.021 per cent on the residential taxes on improvements per $1000 in area B, and 0.034 per cent for residents of area E.

For property tax payers in Burns Lake, it would mean a 0.095 increase per $1000 on improvements. Because the VBL has been subsidizing the service out of general revenue already, the net impact for village property tax payers will be a reduction in what they now contribute to the service.

“They [municipal property tax payers] will pay less because area B and E will share in the costs,” Worthing said. The proposed cost sharing would reduce the village’s contribution by more than $1600.

The issue will be brought to area B and E constituents through an alternative approval procedure where, instead of a more costly general referendum, constituents opposed to the resolution are asked to register their negative vote during an upcoming polling period.

If less than 10 per cent of constituents respond that they are opposed to the motion, then it will pass.

If the approval process passes, Burns Lake PVS will have $56,000 in combined funding from the province, the municipality and the region.

“Fifty-six thousand dollars will keep the service as it is now,” Worthing said.

“Of the $56,000, $42,000 comes from the province, and the additional $13,000 comes from the function [proposed Burns Lake and Area Victims’ Services Service].”

The difference between the $20,000 proposed and the $13,000 minimum required will provide a cushion against unexpected workload circumstances. Any funds left over will be a tax break for the next year.

 

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