Submitted by Carol Kulesha, regional district director-Friday night at the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District meeting, with the cooperation of the other Island and electoral area directors, I shut down the meeting before the new budget could be approved.
We are now without a budget. This is serious and what it means in the end to the regional district is unknown. I believe that I had no choice but move to adjourn the meeting as Prince Rupert and Port Edward had rejected the finance committee’s budget in the 11th hour and with their weighted vote would have pushed a budget forward that unfairly targeted Queen Charlotte and to a lesser degree the other electoral areas.
The budget produced by Prince Rupert had the greatest impact on the most vulnerable community, Queen Charlotte. It arbitrarily upped our water and sewer administration fees over 200% from $16,000 per year to $50,000 per year! There was no back up documentation or survey of staff time to corroborate the increase.
The finance committee has recognized Prince Rupert’s difficult economic times by both substantial budget cuts ($127,000 less this year for Prince Rupert – more than a $580,000 decrease over the past five years) and a new “user pay” philosophy. The board also agreed to undergo a staff analysis to see if the unincorporated areas are paying their fair share. This was not enough. When financial matters are on the table, Prince Rupert has half the votes and with Port Edward cooperating can pass any budget they want.
We run our own office, have our own public works staff but depend on the regional district because of our status as an unincorporated community. $50,000 administration is a figment of Prince Rupert’s imagination, an outrageous money grab and an abuse of power.
To allow this budget to go through means raising our sewer and water rates and using our equipment reserve. Stopping the meeting is a delaying tactic and is only a short term move while we look for other solutions.
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