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Esquimalt council questions fee increase for municipal group

The financial cost of a formal alliance among B.C. municipalities was put in perspective at a recent Esquimalt council meeting.

Some councillors balked at paying five per cent more to for the township’s 2012 membership with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities.

It will cost Esquimalt $9,768.14, including $1,046.59 in taxes, which is calculated based on population.

All municipalities and regional districts in the province have been UBCM members for the past 32 years.

Membership advantages include applying for thousands of dollars in grant money, as well as advocating issues to the province.

"UBCM dues have over the last two decades fallen well below (consumer price index) adjusted dues," Ted Willmer, UBCM’s manager of finance and operations wrote in a letter sent to all municipal chief financial officers.

Despite concern over the membership fee hike, some Esquimalt councillors jumped to the UBCM's defence.

"Of the $991.3 million that UBCM receives under the gas tax and public transit program, if we stop being members do we no longer have the ability to apply for grants under that?” said Coun. David Schinbein.

When he asked whether the township received more than $9,768.14 (the cost of membership) in grants from the UBCM last year, Laurie Hurst, Esquimalt’s chief administrative officer, said the township received hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2011.

"I'm sort of looking at a rate of investment here," Schinbein said. "We're paying this much, what are we getting back from it."

Council tabled the issue until staff can provide more details about the fee increase.

Did you know?

The Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM):

Office location: Richmond

What: A collective body of municipalities and regional districts across the province that advocates issues and provides consultation to the province. It provides grant funding as well as millions of dollars to local governments through the Carbon Action Revenue Incentive program, for example.

Age: Entering its 107th year

Membership: All B.C. municipalities and regional districts have been members for the past 32 consecutive years.

 

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