Once the piper has been paid in the dispute over regional sewage service a new player is waiting to join the dance.
The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) Area B director has made it known she will be seeking a voting seat on the committee that deals with management of the service.
Linda Worley said the rural area intends to get involved in the service once arbitration between Trail and Rossland is settled later this year.
A portion of Area B has paid into the service for years—the lower main road of Oasis and Rivervale—and it has become imperative those people have a say at the decision-making table, said Worley.
“This has always been a sore point since our residents are paying into the service, we cannot represent them,” she said. “Currently, any decisions can be made and the residents and the director have no say.”
A motion was passed at the last RDKB board of directors meeting that the sewer committee revisit the participation of electoral Area B as a full partner in the regionalized sewer service, and consider the matter of cost apportionment for the service, notwithstanding capital costs.
Although Worley now sits at the sewage committee table, it is a courtesy extended from other committee members. She can only give opinion and does not retain a vote.
But after the province’s arbitrator weighs in, if two thirds of existing parties in the service say they would welcome Area B to the table, then Area B would have a vote.
And that arbitration process could be concluded at the end of the year, said Trail city councillor Robert Cacchioni.
Trail and the City of Rossland now have to decide if they will choose final arbitration or proposal arbitration as the process moves forward and the arbitrator is chosen this month.
Cacchioni said the City of Trail wants the arbitration process complete by December, 2012.
“That’s an important date for us. The budget is set for the subsequent year, 2013, and at this point we are paying 68.75 per cent,” he said.
“If the arbitration (decision) comes in at any less than that, which I am hoping it does in terms of fairness and equity, our costs would be reduced.”
It is costing the city over $106,000 extra per year than is “reasonable,” said Cacchioni, according to a mediator’s report finding on the terms of the current agreement.
Overall, the city pays around $1.7 million annually as their portion of the sewage service.
Trail city council began the process of arbitration with the City of Rossland to determine the correct percentages of shared costs for sewage service in the Greater Trail region last month.
The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development (CSCD) advised in a May 10 letter to council that arbitration in the long-running dispute between the two municipalities was the only recourse left.
For four years the question of who pays what portion of the cost of sewer service among Trail, Rossland and Warfield has been booted around like a political football.
Trail currently pays close to 70 per cent of the regional budget following a formula created in the late 1960s, based mostly on population and projected growth.
The three municipalities underwent a service review in 2008 in an attempt to arrive at a consensus to resolve the dispute, formulating a fair allocation of costs as they related to what service each community received.
The RDKB had recommended the matter go to the province in hopes of finding a resolution this year, though the financial implications will not be taken into effect until 2013.