An open house planned for this Thursday night (April 4) will give Kersley residents a chance to learn more about the process for acquiring a new fire truck for this area.
The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) is going through an Alternative Approval Process (AAP) to replace fire engines for the Kersley, Lone Butte and Forest Grove volunteer fire departments.
To explain this process, the CRD is hosting an open house Thursday, April 4 from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at the Kersley Community Hall.
Residents who live within the Kersley Fire Protection Area are invited to stop by any time or come for a presentation at 4:15 p.m. or 5:15 p.m.
Several of the CRD’s volunteer fire department trucks are on their last wheels and due for replacement according to fire insurance requirements. To be a legal volunteer fire department, the Kersley Volunteer Fire Department must follow all the requirements to obtain fire insurance, and its fire engine is reaching its age limit and must be replaced in 2019, according to the CRD. If it is not replaced, the Kersley Volunteer Fire Department will not be able to get insurance, meaning they cannot operate as a fire department.
To lower the impact on taxes, the Regional District is changing how it purchases trucks by moving to 10-year debt financing rather than five-year financing.
“This model spreads out the purchasing cost, creates the least impact on tax rates and helps the fire department build up savings for future maintenance and truck replacements,” according to the CRD.
Each engine/pumper truck will cost about $400,000, and because the Kersley department has $150,000 available in capital reserves to contribute towards the purchase, the CRD will only be borrowing the remaining $250,000 required.
Under the 10-year financing model, the Kersley Fire Protection Area is seeing inflationary tax increases only over the next five-year financial plan (2019-2023) with a 2.5-per-cent tax increase each year. If the fire truck was purchased with five-year financing, a 15-per-cent tax increase would be required in 2019.
Local governments need residents’ permission to enter into debt financing arrangements longer than five years. To gather that permission, the Regional District has chosen to use an AAP to purchase the new fire engines for Kersley, Lone Butte and Forest Grove.
An AAP is a “reverse” form of public assent, where the proposed change will go ahead unless at least 10 per cent of the eligible voters submit a signed Elector Response Form saying they are against the proposal. This means the CRD will purchase the trucks through 10-year financing unless 10 per cent of the residents in the specific fire protection areas object. At that point, the proposal would go to a full referendum.
With the AAP, qualified electors in the Kersley Fire Protection Area who are fine with the CRD purchasing a fire truck with 10-year financing do not need to do anything. Qualified electors who are opposed to the idea need to sign and submit an official Elector Response Form by April 16 at 4 p.m. Only the official forms, or an accurate copy, will be accepted.
For more information, visit cariboord.ca/firedepartments.
Electoral Response Forms are available from the CRD offices during business hours or can be downloaded at cariboord.ca/firedepartments.
Depending on how these three assent processes go, the CRD expects to hold alternative approval processes for the Deka Lake, 150 Mile House and Barlow Creek fire protection areas later this year as well.