City to pay $375,000 RDCK tab
The City of Castlegar will now be paying the contentious $375,000 regional requisition that the city had declined to pay to the RDCK last month.
At its regular meeting Tuesday night, council voted to pay the bill rather than see potential service cuts and/or staff layoffs at the Castlegar Complex.
The city’s rationale behind not paying the bill was that the city merely collected taxes on behalf of the regional district (RDCK) and, since Celgar declined to pay its municipal taxes altogether, the city would not remit the Celgar portion to the RDCK.
Council changed its collective position, however, when the RDCK passed a motion to have a letter sent to Complex staff indicating there may be cuts in hours and/or staff levels, and when discussions surrounding service cuts began.
According to mayor Lawrence Chernoff, the recreation commission had the reserve funds to cover the budget shortfall, and no layoffs or service cuts were necessary.
“At no point did they discuss using the reserves,” he said. “And we just weren’t willing to do that; to put people’s jobs and livelihoods at risk. We want our families and staff to feel secure, so we’ll pay it.”
Councillors Russ Hearne, Kevin Chernoff and Kirk Duff agreed that the original decision was the right one, but that sticking to their guns was not worth making Complex staff fear for their jobs, so they voted for paying the requisition.
All three, however, decried the RDCK’s tactics.
Hearne said he felt it was an ultimatum – either pay the bill, or it will impact staff and services at the Complex.
“It was part-time politicians using people as pawns to get their own way,” he said.
Councillor Deb McIntosh was the only one to vote against paying the $375,000, arguing the rec commission has the funds to cover the shortfall and she doesn’t approve of caving to what she called the “scare tactics” of the RDCK.
“We made the right decision (in the first place),” she said, adding that rewarding the RDCK’s stance in this case in not the way municipal business should be conducted. “Communities, in times like these, need to back each other up …not do this.”
The RDCK has a special meeting scheduled for tomorrow in Nelson to discuss the issue.