Non profits and community groups future (funding) to be decided on by RDCK board
By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily
The future of non-profit societies and community groups in Nelson and the regional district will be up for debate in the next regional district board of directors meeting.
With many community groups relying on the support of the discretionary and community development funds from the Regional District of Central Kootenay — through the BC Hydro grants in lieu of taxes program — the debate will begin Nov. 4 on whether to continue with the option to allow money for those groups, or to use it elsewhere to reduce reliance on residential taxes.
A lot of the grants in lieu money has gone to non-profit societies over the years, said RDCK chair Gary Wright, but the question will arise of should it be used instead for services that are already established in the regional district, or can will it be used it to support things in the public (jaws of life, a community hall).
The question is an annual one, said Wright.
“How do you work in an area where monies come in, and you have a certain amount of latitude in the way you manage them, and you just have to manage them in a way that the board as a whole feels best about?” he said.
“And that changes from year to year what that means.”
The money for non-profit societies and community groups has to come from the grants in lieu, said RDCK vice chair and Area B director, John Kettle. The regional district taxes for services, not for discretionary grants.
“We know that we are not going to be increasing taxes next year,” he said. “I’m not going to be voting for any tax increases again. We are taxed out.
“So we need to find more and innovative ways to continue to allow these non-profit societies and volunteer groups to continue to be sustainable, and that’s what this money helps with.”
Last year Nelson director John Dooley opted not to put Nelson’s grants in lieu of taxes into the regional district mix, said Kettle, and received their money separate.
BC Hydro makes payments in lieu of taxes to regional districts and municipalities in respect of electricity generating facilities located within their electoral areas. The current payment plan was introduced in 1989.
The amounts of the payments are established by Order in Council under the authority of the Hydro and Power Authority Act, with 2008 being the base year for the amounts.
The money is must be managed within the framework of financing services, with either the money for each electricity generating facility ‘managed’ in its specific location, shown as revenue in appropriate regional district service budgets, or shown as revenue for services in the service area of the electricity generating facility.
There is now the option of applying the money to the general administration budget of the entire regional district or another designated region-wide service.
Settling out where the money goes was not handled well in the past and it could go worse this time around, said Kettle.
“We have a working agreement that seems to be working pretty well, and that is going to be challenged by the way we rework it, but I think it’s going to be positive when it comes out,” he said.
The Province’s interest in the whole thing, said Kettle, is when money is given in lieu of taxes, the intent is they want the regional district to treat it as if it was tax derived. They are happiest if it goes to the regional district’s various services, Wright said.
“And we are happiest if it goes into a variety of discretionary funds and community development funds that we vary from time to time,” he said.
The board will get together to see what the directors think should be done with the money, and whether it matches what the Province wants them to do with it at the next board meeting Nov. 4.