Grand Forks council faced with extra costs after the defeat of financing proposal

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
January 14th, 2010

With the defeat of the proposal for a long-term lease-purchase financing option to purchase garbage equipment and an electrical truck, Grand Forks city council expressed worries over the stability of their electrical utility services. An alternate approval process (AAP) for the financing of the electrical truck was wrapped up with the controversial garbage services proposal. As a result of the defeat of the AAP, the electrical truck must now be financed with a bank loan that will need to be paid out at the end of a five-year-term.

“We will be renewing our contract for a period of time hopefully with Alpine (Disposal) as we plan around that part of the AAP. The other thing that’s left hanging is the purchase of the line truck. It is important that we proceed with that and the plan at this point in time is an alternate financing plan,” said Mayor Brian Taylor.

The plan is to borrow money for a five-year-term and then pay out the remaining balance at the end of the term with money from the electrical reserve fund. Council indicated that they will be proceeding with that immediately.

Councillor Chris Moslin said it was unfortunate that the electrical truck was wrapped up in the process with the garbage equipment, but he has serious concerns that as council proceeds with the purchase of the truck rising costs of electricity may make it more difficult for the city to continue providing the electrical service.

“If the status quo was good, then let’s go do this. But as I’ve been discussing with my fellow councillors, in the background FortisBC has started cost of service hearings. They are trying to raise the wholesale price that we purchase electricity from. We purchase electricity cheap from Fortis and sell it at a markup to our citizens. They still pay less than Fortis’ retail rate, city makes a profit, and passes it back to their customers,” said Moslin.

“We’re faced with buying expensive equipment, and on the other side of the issue Fortis is trying to raise the wholesale price. If the wholesale rate of electricity doesn’t change, we’re good and we can probably afford this utility truck. If the wholesale rate of electricity starts to change, and Fortis wants to change it dramatically, they could price us out of business,” said Moslin. “Council may be faced with a decision whether to continue operating its own electrical utility or let Fortis take it over. For me, that’s the real big decision in the background.”

Council will be proceeding with the purchase of the truck as it is critical to the city works crews.

Multi-use sports field:

Councillor Michael Wirischagin brought forward a motion to start building a multi-use sports field in City Park, a motion that was deferred last August. The estimated cost is $25,000 and the funding would come from the slag reserve. The proposed location for the field is south of the campground adjacent to the BMX track. The proposed field would remain as green space but would have marked lines and uprights for goals. The motion was deferred to the budget process for consideration.

Upcoming meetings:

Mayor Taylor will be attending a meeting with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary on Jan. 25 to discuss shared costs of city services that are supporting regional residents. Jan. 21 there will be another deer management and bow and arrow discussion meeting.

Categories: Politics