Courtesy of the Cariboo Regional District:
In March and April, the Cariboo Regional District held alternative approval processes (AAP) to use 10-year debt financing to purchase fire engines for the Forest Grove, Kersley and Lone Butte volunteer fire departments (VFD). With no opposition forms received, the CRD will be moving ahead to purchase the new fire engines this year.
“I am really pleased at the success of these alternative approval processes,” says Margo Wagner, CRD Chair and Director of Area H, which includes the Forest Grove VFD. “Our main goal was to save our taxpayers some money, as AAPs are more cost-effective than referendums. However, we also wanted to make sure residents understood what was happening and felt informed. With the engagement we saw, I think that was the case.”
The CRD is moving to a ten-year debt financing model for purchasing fire trucks. This new 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.
Because local governments need residents’ permission to enter into debt financing arrangements longer than five years, each purchase requires public permission. If the public didn’t give its permission, the CRD would purchase the trucks through its former five-year financing model.
Over the next five years, the Regional District will be replacing fourteen fire trucks for its fire departments. The CRD held a referendum in the Interlakes Fire Protection Area last summer for their 2019 and 2021 truck replacements and chose AAPs for the Forest Grove, Kersley and Lone Butte VFDs.
Public assent processes, likely AAPs, are expected to be held before the end of 2019 for the Deka Lake, 150 Mile House and Barlow Creek VFDs.
“We are taking a big picture approach with our fire departments. By coordinating a bulk purchasing agreement with standard yet customizable trucks, by adjusting our purchasing model to ten-year financing and by using a consistent approach with our public assent processes, we are working to keep the tax impacts manageable for each fire department’s truck replacement,” explains Wagner.
An alternative approval process 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.
April 16 was the deadline to submit Elector Response Forms in opposition to purchasing the trucks through ten-year financing for the Forest Grove, Kersley and Lone Butte departments.
Visit cariboord.ca/firedepartments for more information about the fire truck purchases. The FAQs outline the impact on taxation for each fire protection area and provide more details on the alternative approval process.