Friday, March 6, 2015

Budgets, Dogs and Mines!!!

I'd like to welcome a new business to the community, Bralorne Adventure Lodge.

Check them out at:   
  All the best to Blake, Chris and Darren in this new venture.

Taxes and Budgets 
Sorry for all the words below, however it is the only way to give you all this info.
The major revenue sources for regional district services include property taxes, parcel taxes and fees and charges.  In electoral areas, such as ours, regional district taxes are collected by the BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue.  Each year, the regional district submits tax requisitions for each service to the Ministry through the Inspector of Municipalities.  The Ministry applies a rate against assessed property values within each relevant service area to raise the revenue required.  Once collected, the revenues are paid to the regional district.

Your property tax notice will list a tax rate beside each of the listed services.  The amount owing is determined by multiplying the tax rate by the property's assessed value. The challenge comes in, I have found, in that they lump a whole bunch of the services in this area together on one line, and other services they show on a single line, so you really can't see exactly what you are paying for what.  This year, the SLRD is hoping to produce a newsletter that explains Area A's Tax breakdown in more detail.   I support this as it provides more transparency and accountability to the community. If you are left to try and understand the Regional District portion of your taxes from the Tax Bill, good luck.

When you do get your tax notice you will see that the vast majority of your taxes each year go to school taxes and then smaller portions to the provincial government for general services and an even smaller portion goes to the regional district. If you have any questions about your tax notice please call me and I'll walk you through the part of your taxes that relate to the Regional District.

We have a number of services in Area A.  Some of them tax everyone in the Valley for Area A services, such as the Transfer Station, Library, Museum, Economic Development, Cemetary, Haylmore Site, Amenity Preservation.  Some of them tax specific taxpayers in certain areas, Bralorne Sewer, Bralorne Water, Gold Bridge Water, Bralorne Street Lights, Gold Bridge Street Lights, Gun Lake Fire Protection, Bralorne Fire Department.  There are also some services that everyone in the Regional District (Britannia Beach to Pavilion Lake and everywhere in between) pay into such as General Government and Planning.  We also have some services that our area, Lillooet and Area B share such as the Lillooet Rescue Service and the Lillooet Landfill.

Each of these services are taxed and MUST be managed within their own little silo.  The regional district cannot by law, move money between services.  So each is like its own little business, and also by law, none of these services can run a deficit for any length of time.  So we must tax for what it costs to run them.  Additionally, the way and process that tax requisitions can be increased is strictly controlled by the Provincial Government by the Inspector of Municipalities.  The rules around how to increase tax requisitions would blow your mind and regional district's pretty much need one staff member who is an expert on all this stuff to navigate them.  However, the long and short of it is, the rules are for your protection as a taxpayer so that you can be assured that there is a process that goes along with each and every budget increase.

This year the total assessment for Area A is up by about 7.8%.  While many of the individual residential type property assessments have decreased the addition of a couple of large taxpayers such as the Boralex Run of the River project has made for the increase.  This is very unusual in BC this year as many many place have a decline in their total assessment base. (not good).

Some highlights of this year's budgeting are (if I don't mention something its because the tax requisition, parcel taxes or user fees are staying the same).

General Government and Planning - tax requisition will remain flat to last years.

Asset Amenity Preservation - is a new service, this will bring an increase

Gold Bridge Water - we have reversed the way we tax on this and are now generating most of the revenue via a tax requisition (based on assessment) and the user fee portion of the total revenue will drop.  I am going to provide more specific info on this in a future blog.

Bralorne Water - this service will see an increase in user rates this year.

Gold Bridge Transfer Station, Bralorne TV, 911 Service all have decreases in the tax requistion for that service.

Museum, Haylmore and Economic Development will see increases in the tax requisition.

Additionally with the new BC Hydro Payment In Lieu of taxes policy I negotiated and the board approved last year, I am committing $5,000 of those funds each to the Bralorne Sewer Service, the Bralorne Water Service and the Gold Bridge Water Service.  We are WAY BEHIND in accumulating reserves in these services to help pay for the big capital expenditures that will be required in the future.  This new allocation of PILT funds will help build reserves without taxing you!!!!  Bonus, I love it!!!     Information on this new arrangement can be found at:  Previous Post: New arrangement BC Hydro Payment In Lieu of Taxes.  This previous post also contains a link to all my other posts on this topic.  This fiscal year this arrangement will bring approximately an additional $33,000 under our direct control, this amount will increase over the next number of years to an additional yearly amount of approximately $200,000.  It will be used to apply to services, such as I am doing here, or for special projects, such as the Museum Move and Collection Management this year, or to other types of infrastructure needs.  It will not be used for the tradiitonal grant-in-aide type requests, as this is what the Area A Select Funds is primarily used for.

OK, that's way too much on this topic for now, hope your eyes didn't cross reading it:-)  I will post more information in the next few months.

Previous Post on Dog Issues Scroll down to the bottom of the post.

We love our dogs, and our dogs are lucky to have a place like this to play and romp and trail run and and and.  The problem is that we are allowing our dogs to roam off our properties while not in our control, we are allowing our dogs to bark alot, we are allowing our dogs to attack other dogs.  I am very sorry to say I am continuing to receive complaints even in the Winter for pete's sakes.  I have received complaints from Gun Lake area and Bralorne area.

The vast majority of us, including me, do NOT want to bring in a dog bylaw.  PLEASE take the extra steps to keep your dog in your control at all times and as quiet as possible.  We struggle as many of you do to keep our dog on our property so we are not perfect either.  It is something to be aware of as the frequency of complaints on this issue is not decreasing!

Invasives Survey
The Lillooet and Regional Invasives Species Society is doing a very good job of serving our area.  Please see more about them at:   

Please take a minute to do this survey for them to better be able to serve us:   Survey

Bralorne Gold Mines on Care & Maintenance

The Bralorne Gold Mine has been on Care & Maintenance since before Christmas.  This link provides an update (bottom of the page) on why and what else is going on up there.

Bralorne Mine Update

The Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) and the Ministry of Environment (MOE)
have implemented a plan to ensure Bralorne Gold Mine (BGM) near Lillooet, B.C. is in
compliance with its permit conditions after another heavy rainfall in the first week of February.

Following a winter of repeated Pineapple Express type rainfall events where at times the water in the Bralorne Gold Mines tailing pond was gaining 4cm a day, the Ministry of Energy and Mines ordered a shut down of Bralorne Gold Mines near the end of 2014 until issues with the tailings pond could be addressed.  The Ministry tells me they have had a high presence at the mine site and have been monitoring the situation with the tailings pond closely. 
 Dam Safety inspection documents can be found at :

The concern is of course, that an overflow could erode the dam and cause a complete collapse.

The chief inspector of mines ordered on February 13, 2015,  BGM to complete the following
Procure additional pumps as required to reduce the amount of water in its tailings
storage facility (TSF) and provide back-up pumping capacity.
Conduct a review of water balance and water-management procedures, including a
schematic of the mine’s pumps, applicable pipelines and flow volumes.
Provide daily reporting to MEM until the mine site is in full compliance. This reporting
shall include current freeboard, daily precipitation received on site, weather forecast,
pumping discharge rates and volumes as well as a predicted date when the required
freeboard will be restored.

MOE has approved BGM’s request for a by-pass authorization from Feb. 11 – March 31, 2015 to allow the mine to pump untreated water into Cadwallader Creek. Under the authorization, BGM must:
Notify the Interior Health Authority (IHA) regarding the discharge.
Keep a daily discharge record and provide a weekly report to Environmental Protection.
Submit a sampling plan prepared by a qualified professional by Feb. 16, 2015.
Immediately implement an interim sampling plan.
Undertake a human health and ecological risk assessment if water quality guidelines for
metal elements, including arsenic, are exceeded in Lower Cadwallader Creek.
IHA has determined, based on the dilution effect of the creek into Carpenter Lake, that these
elements pose no known health risks at this time. IHA will continue to monitor conditions and provide an update if required.

I have spoken to the Chief Mines Inspector who indicates the flow into the underground tunnels of water had increased exponentially to 20l/sec causing increased flow into the tailings pond.

The order, which requires continued pumping until March 31, 2015 and that a 1 metre freeboard must be maintained in the tailing pond.   The Bralorne Gold Mine has temporarily ceased operations And according to the Mines Inspector it is unlikely to reopen, at a minimum, until after this pumping period.

I am currently following up on the Environmental side of things related to the release into
Cadwallder Creek and will advise any findings on that side of things.