Province doles out cash to communities

The province handed out the second sack of presents to Kootenay communities in its Strategic Community Investment Fund (SCIF).

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

The province handed out the second sack of presents to Kootenay communities in its Strategic Community Investment Fund (SCIF), an unconditional grant payment the province makes from its general revenues to municipalities across the province.

With a total of over $1.9 million coming to the Greater Trail area—and $5 million to the West Kootenay—the SCIF includes the traffic fine revenue sharing program and small community and regional district grants.

Each community uses the cash injection to help flesh out its budget, but the devil in the details varies with each municipality.

Montrose was allotted $316,457 in small community grants, dropping the cash into general revenue to offset staff wages (they don’t collect taxes specifically for wages), council expenses, benefits programs, legal costs, running the village office, public relations, elections and general public works.

“We are doing more capital projects this year and we couldn’t do them without this,” said village chief administrative officer Kevin Chartres. “There’s no question it impacts capital projects because that is what you would cut if you didn’t have the money.”

Trail took home the most provincial money of any West Kootenay community as it received a small community grant of $380,774, collecting $108,168 in traffic fine revenue.

The traffic fine revenue sharing program funding helps offset the cost of policing and community safety, with Trail using its allotment for the city to employ two extra Crime Reduction Unit RCMP officers to provide a “higher level of service.”

The grants come from ticket fines and court-imposed fines on violation tickets, and the amount of money a municipality receives is based on its contribution to total municipal policing costs.

Only communities that pay for policing—Trail, Nelson and Castlegar—received the traffic fine revenue.

City corporate administrator for Trail, Michelle McIsaac, said they do not know how much is collected locally for traffic fines, instead, they receive an apportionment of the total provincial revenue, based on the amount the city pays for policing.

Warfield took home $357,923 in grants and Fruitvale was $363,857 in grants.

Rossland gathered up $379,178 in small community grants. The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary also received cash, with $161,564 in grants.