The Lower Columbia communities have agreed on one thing – that efforts to grow the local economy should remain a regional service for another three years.
Trail council signed off on an amended economic development bylaw during the Monday night meeting, agreeing to fund over 43 per cent of total costs for the service that covers Rossland, Warfield, Montrose, Fruitvale, and Areas A and B.
With Columbia Basin Trust agreeing to finance $50,000 annually toward the economic resource, Trail will pay about $76,000 annually; Area A, $31,000; Area B, $17,500; Rossland, $28,000; Fruitvale $9,600; Warfield, $8,000; and Montrose $5,200.
The agreement was expected to go before the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) board Thursday evening for final assent.
“If approved there, and I see no obstacles at this point, we are good to go for three years,” said John MacLean, RDKB’s chief administrative officer (CAO).
The newly amended agreement, differs in three key ways from the previous regional economic contract, which officially expires Dec. 31.
Cost sharing between the seven participants has been adjusted, and that factor seems to acknowledge Trail’s boundary expansion proposal, should it proceed.
Mitigation between the city and the regional district hasn’t begun, however the bylaw amendment could level the economic service’s playing field somewhat if Trail envelops the Waneta Dam tax base.
The updated regional cost sharing formula is 100 per cent based on converted assessment, which means each municipality will pay based on the value of its land and improvements therein.
Previously, each participant’s contribution was based on 50 per cent of its population base, and 50 per cent converted assessment.
“If the proposed boundary extension occurs in the future, the city’s share would increase and exceed $100,000,” confirmed Trail’s CAO David Perehudoff.
This year, the city and Area A, with higher assessment bases, will both pay a higher percentage of the total budget as a result, he added.
Another difference is that the service’s regulating body, the Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society (LCCDTS), will receive less money, $176,000 annually from the seven participants after Columbia Basin Trust okayed a $50,000 yearly contribution until 2017.
The previous contract had the communities paying a combined total of $224,000 to the LCCDT yearly, with no help from a third party.
That number was deemed not sustainable by the majority of participants following a 2013 service review. Notably, the new agreement stipulates that a review to determine the new service’s success is mandated for the last months of 2015.
“If following the review, their concerns are not addressed they then could give notice to be removed from the service and provide the 210-day notice,” said Perehudoff. “This applies to Trail as well.”
The other big change that takes all the “appearance” of politics out of the room this time round, is one that delineates who is allowed, or not, to sit at the table that makes monetary decisions.
The Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation (LCIC) is a subsidiary of the society and receives flow through funding (now $226,000 annually) from that board to do all the legwork of economic development in the area.
Those decisions could be construed as murky, or as a conflict of interest of an elected official with respect to financial decisions that affect the LCIC.
The new agreement clears the air, and specifies that the composition of the 11-member LCIC board cannot have one elected official taking a seat.
Eight non-elected people will be nominated by the LCCDT, one non-elected member appointed by the City of Trail and two non-elected members jointly nominated by the other six jurisdictions.
The current non-elected board members are business professionals throughout the region who have an interest in advancing economic development, notes LCIC’s Terry Van Horn. “They were selected either by the LCCDTS or other LCIC board members.”