LITTLE RAPIDS — Residents of Little Rapids won’t see an increase in their services fees for at least the next year.
The Little Rapids Local Service District Committee held its annual general meeting at the community/fire hall Thursday night and acting chair Ruth Pullin was happy to announce that the committee was operating on a balanced budget. Seven residents attended the meeting along with five of the seven-member committee.
Pullin said Little Rapids is one few local service districts, or even communities, in the province to be in that position.
That’s why the committee was able to keep the yearly service fee at $300 per household. The money collected covers the cost of waste collection, fire protection and street lighting.
However, with regional waste management coming on stream the committee may not be able to avoid raising fees in the future.
“We knew that we had a small cushion in our bank account and we knew that there certainly was going to be an increase in our waste collection (costs) over the next couple of years, so we thought that we would leave the fees as they are this year and then let people know that the likelihood (of an increase) is coming and then try to ease it in over the next couple of years,” said Pullin following the meeting.
Another change the committee is in the process of making in terms of fees is the implementation of a new business fee structure.
Pullin said the committee had no criteria in place for setting business fees and felt a review was needed.
“If a business wants to know why they’re being charged a certain amount, we need to be able to justify it.”
The committee decided that existing businesses would be grandfathered into the structure and continue to pay the fees they currently do. Pullin said the business fees have only gone up in the past when residential fees have.
Any new business would have its fees determined by the new criteria. This would include the base amount paid by current businesses and then extra units based on the cost of providing fire protection to that business.
Businesses with less than 5,000 square feet pay $325 and those with more than 5,000 square feet pay $475. Home-based businesses pay $150.
Under the proposed structure each additional unit added to a business would cost $25. Pullin said the units would vary according to the risk involved. For example a business that has hazardous material on site might be charged an extra six units.
Fire service committee
The committee also moved forward Thursday night with the selection of three people to serve on the regional fire service committee that will be set up to oversee the combined Steady Brook and Little Rapids fire department.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the two communities in November.
Pullin said the formation of the regional fire service committee is the next step in completing that process.
“It’ll be responsible for the governance of the combined fire department,” said Pullin.
The seven-member committee will consist three people from each community with the seventh member selected by a draw. Each community will put forward one name for that draw. That seventh member will serve for one year and then be replaced by someone from the other community on an alternating basis.
Little Rapids fire Chief Glenn Penney, local service district committee member Shawn Leamon and Linda Leamon will make up the Little Rapids part of the committee. No decision was made on the person who will go into the draw.
At the end of the business portion of the meeting an election was held for a new committee.
Five of the outgoing committee were unopposed in their bid to return. Acclaimed were Pullin, outgoing chair Jason Spingle, Leamon, Agnes Brake and Lois Bateman. With no other interest, it was decided to look at filling the remaining two positions later. A new chair will be selected at the next meeting.
Following the election, outgoing treasurer Brad Childs put forth a motion to increase the renumeration for committee members. Committee members had been receiving a break on their yearly service fees by only paying $150, however Childs proposed the entire $300 fee be waived.
The motion passed with one member abstaining from voting and at least one committee member voting against it.