Charlie lake Fire Department looking for public input

Thursday evening, Charlie Lake firefighters welcomed the general public into their station, laying out three separate budget scenarios for the upcoming year, along with two public relations options, looking for public input before any final decisions are made.

When examining the three separate 2013 budget proposals, the main differences revolve around the amount of money received from the tax payers, and the implications it would have on the station’s Capital Reserve Funds.

Option one would see the Charlie Lake Fire Station use $100,000 of it’s Capital Reserve Fund, resulting in lower tax rates for Charlie Lake residents, as less money would be needed from tax payers.

The first option would result in a 0.785 property tax rate per $1,000 taxable value.

Option two would not use any of the Capital Reserve funds, and as result would see an increase in property tax rate to compensate for the lack of funds taken from the Reserve Fund.

This option would result in a 0.901 property tax rate per $1,000 taxable value.   

Finally, the third option would not only refrain from using any of the Capital Reserve Funds, but would also add a total of $50,000 to said reserve fund, by increasing the property tax rate further. The third option would see a 0.960 property tax rate per $1,000 taxable value, which would produce enough funds to add the amount of $50,000 to the Capital Reserve Fund.

The Capital Reserve Fund for the Charlie Lake Fire Station is important, as it provides the station the necessary funds to maintain its priority equipment, such a fire suites, trucks and other important equipment used by the local fire department.

Another topic of discussion at the open house was how the Charlie Lake Fire Hall can communicate effectively and efficiently with the general public. Two options were laid out for the public to review and submit their feedback, which the Station and the Peace River Regional District will take into account when making their final decision.

The first option would result in the Fire Station continuing to hold open houses on a regular basis, presenting proposed budgets, operational plans, capital forecasts and a summary of activities conducted the previous year. In this case, the public would be able to provide their input to the department, staff and the Regional District Electoral Area Directors.

Option two would have the Regional District establish a Fire Service Advisory Committee, comprised of five member of the public who reside in Charlie Lake, as well as two Electoral representatives.

The Advisory Committee would be responsible for providing budget oversight, making recommendations to the Regional District Board of Directors on the annual budget and supporting the Department in public relations and community-engagement.   

Arthur Hadland, member of the Peace River Regional District and Electoral Area C Director, says the public’s opinion is crucial when considering all of the proposed ideas from the open house.

“Because of the way the government’s model here is structured, we only have one person looking after 6,300 people. So we are looking for some vehicle for communicating with the people about the budget and how their money is spent. We’re talking about public engagement.”  

Residents of Charlie Lake have until March 14 to provide their feedback on the above ideas, when the budget will be presented to the board. Public meetings will be held in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek and Chetwynd the following week for further public feedback and then the Budget will get adopted on March 28.     

If interested in submitting comments, contact Kim Frech, chief financial officer for the PRRD at 250-784-3221.

To examine the three budget proposals in further detail, view the attached file.