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Regional district proposed to nearly double transit tax requisition to maintain ‘sustainability’

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
March 9th, 2020

If the maximum annual tax requisition amount for the region’s transit service is not increased the service will not be sustainable beyond the current year, according to an RDCK staff report.

As a result, the partners who operate the Kootenay Lake West Transit Service have applied to the province to increase the maximum annual requisition amount.

Third reading on a bylaw to change the amount taxed for the service was passed by the Regional District of Central Kootenay board of directors, with the bylaw amendment request now submitted to the Local Government Inspector for approval and review.

Under the proposed bylaw the maximum amount of money that may be requisitioned annually will be $650,000, or $0.058 per $1,000 of net taxable value of land and improvements with the service area.

That will be almost double the current annual requisition maximum of $350,000 — or $0.048 per $1,000 of the net taxable value.

“Regardless of whether or not the proposed service increases are realized the service will not be able to fund status quo operations beyond 2020,” said RDCK research analyst Tom Dool in his report to the board on the increase to the transit service.

 “The rate … will fund cost recovery for the service in 2020 but beyond that the financial requirements of the service will exceed the current requisition maximum.”

The proposed requisition is based on the proposed 2020-24 Five Year Financial Plan for the service that incorporates the proposed service level increases agreed to in the 2019-20 three-year transit improvement proposal memorandum of understanding with BC Transit.

The amending bylaw also deletes the annual apportionment by percentage and instead proposes the annual cost of providing transit service be evenly spread among participating areas on the basis of base cost, transit opportunity, annual mileage and actual assessed value.

Since the service was established, Nelson has paid the largest amount of the total service at 20.15 per cent, Nakusp was second at 12.6 per cent, Castlegar third at 8.55 per cent and electoral Area D at 8.47 per cent.

When the service was first established in 2005 the regional district collected $0.024 per $1,000 of the net taxable value of land and improvements within the service area, an amount not exceeding $81,000.

Defining apportionment

  • Base cost: reflects the minimum cost of participating in the West Kootenay Transit network. Base cost is fixed and evenly distributed because it reflects the cost of network administration and functions that serve all transit partners equally.
  • Transit opportunity: the population within 400 metres of a bus stop multiplied by the number of times a bus stops at that location on an annual basis. BC Transit defines 400 metres from a bus stop as the walk-able limit for transit access.
  • Annual mileage: the number of annual transit kilometres required to provide service within a given jurisdiction.
  • Actual assessed value: actual assessed hospital value as defined annually by B.C. Assessment.

— Source: Regional District of Central Kootenay

The costs for transit service have been apportioned by percentage since 1999, with that year as the baseline for service levels and assessment values.

“These allocations do not reflect current service levels,” wrote Dool in his report.

The proposed amendments are intended to bring the City of Castlegar and portions of electoral areas I and J urban transit local service into compliance with the Local Government Act and “ensure the equitable allocation of transit service costs.”

Policy will be provided by regional district staff on the apportionment no later than September of 2020, for the board’s consideration on the application and weighting of the proposed transit apportionment criteria.

With approval of the inspector the bylaw would then require approval through assent, an alternative approval process, or consent by the area director — the method of approval at the discretion of the board.

If approved, the amendments would not take affect until 2021. But the decision on any transit improvements in 2021 must be concluded through public process no later than June 8. At that meeting the board can accept or decline the 2021-2023 BC Transit three-year transit improvement proposals for West Kootenay Transit.

In accepting the offer and the proposed improvements, Dool explained, the services which fund transit must be able to requisition the amount required to fund the local government portion of the proposed 2021 transit improvements.

“The proposed method of apportionment provides a more equitable means of allocating the cost of public transit than percentage amounts based on service levels and assessments at a set date,” Dool wrote.

Proposed plan

Significant items in the proposed budget and five-year financial plan include:

  • $25,000 study funded through grants to initiate a transit interchange in close proximity to Campbell Field;
  • $158,000 in transit betterments in including six new transit shelters, 12 new solar lights, and improvements to two park and rides. This project is 100 per cent funded by the MOTI minor transit betterments program;
  • Implementation of proposed transit improvements identified in the 2019/20 Three Year Transit Expansion Initiatives memorandum of understanding, signed July 29, 2019. Improvements include the purchase of two new buses and two additional peak pullout trips on the 99; and
  • $400,000 capital project to develop a transit interchange at the in close proximity to Campbell Field.

— Source: Regional District of Central Kootenay

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