Nelson’s representative on the Regional District of Central Kootenay is hinting a formal ask for a service review may be in order.
Coun. Janice Morrison made the suggestion Friday as several councillors were hotly critical of the RDCK and its bookkeeping practices as well as being strong-armed into paying for services the city does itself.
The councillors’ main beef is with a line item called “general administration,” known colloquially as S100, which has turned into a catchall for a $100,000 roof repair, a climate change plan and support for the Central Kootenay Food Policy Council and the Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society. The fund also pays for two representatives for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and $500 for an RDCK director’s campaign to run for FCM, though Morrison said she and one other member voted against the campaign expense.
Morrison says she’s asked that the food policy council and CKISS support be put somewhere else in the budget but no decisions have been made at the RDCK.
“It’s quite a hodgepodge,” Coun. Nicole Charlwood quipped. “S100 (general administration line item) is quite an interesting place that we do things,” Morrison replied.
Nelson pays around 20 per cent of anything added to general administration.
Coun. Keith Page suggested writing a letter to the RDCK about the “cleanliness of the lines” in general admin and asking for “better fiscal prudence.” Morrison isn’t opposed to letter writing but suggested the bigger question is whether to ask for a service review.
“Serious consideration needs to be given to whether or not we ask for a service review. I mean, that’s really where the metal hits the road or the pedal hits the gas or whatever the catch phrase is. Really, it would be a service review and that’s where you really get a response,” Morrison said.
The RDCK is mandated to do a service review if there’s a formal request.
“That’s something that we need to contemplate carefully because we are a partner in this service but I think that would be the discussion that needs to be had,” she added.
The other issue is Nelson paying 20 per cent for CKISS at the RDCK while it’s also been asked to support it through the city budget and the regional district’s climate plan when there’s Nelson Next.
The RDCK passed the budget Thursday where Nelson ratepayers will pay 3.6 per cent more to the regional district or about $162,000 more than in 2021. Just over $50,000 of that is for “general administration.”
Mayor John Dooley said the impact on taxes from the regional district in the past few years has been “over the top. I mean it’s through the roof compared to what we’re trying to do.”
“There’s little or no scrutiny around the taxation model at the regional district, in my opinion,” Dooley said.
City Manager Kevin Cormack added there’s a “fundamental problem” with the organization of services in the regional district. “If you’re an organization and you believe in this stuff, why is there an opt out anyway? If you believe in climate change and you want to deliver it in the rural area, you’re all in.”
Council did not make a decision Friday on writing a letter to RDCK but plans to discuss it in further detail at an upcoming council meeting.