The regional district has turned down Rossland’s request for back payment for four years of fire hydrant maintenance.
Since 2010, Rossland has had a deal with the Regional District of the Kootenay Boundary where the region pays the city just over $100 per year, per hydrant. An issue arose when the city discovered it had been under reporting the number of hydrants maintained, reducing its payment by $15,187.21 over four years.
At the most recent board of directors meeting, the RDKB received an invoice from the Golden City requesting payment of the over-$15,000, but the regional district followed a recommendation presented by RDKB Chief Administrative Officer, John MacLean, and declined to pay.
“We went through a couple of issues here to determine which way we wanted to go with this,” said MacLean. “At the end of the day, the recommendation was based on how difficult it would be to go back in time.”
Maclean says every dollar in the fire budget is accounted for, leaving no room for an extra $15,000 to be paid out.
“The fire budget is a very tight budget,” he said. “It is a large budget, but very tight.”
According the RDKB, Rossland was responsible for correctly counting the hydrants and the district is not on the hook for the money.
Manager of operations for Rossland, Darrin Albo, says the city relied on the reports from operators when submitting hydrant counts to the regional district for payment over the last five years.
“I know there are some discrepancies over whether the hydrants are in a strata,” he said, adding that they still flush strata hydrants, but the city doesn’t own them. “When we get a report back from our operators, they will report that they flushed so many hydrants and then we use that number.”
The discrepancy in number of hydrants has been remedied for the 2014 payment from the RDKB, but only after a survey of the city and a hydrant count.
“This year, we actually went around and looked at our GIS (geographic information system) and we went around and physically counted of all of our hydrants, and that is why the number we have now corresponds with how many hydrants we actually own,” he said.
Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore was at the RDKB committee meeting where the decision to decline payment was made, and says she has no plans to contest it.
“The agreement is that cities are to tell the RDKB what hydrants they have and submit a map,” she said. “Evidently the city made a mistake and didn’t do that (from 2010 to 2013). I wouldn’t want someone to come to me and say, ‘Hey, I forgot to bill you four years ago, but I am billing you now.’”
Moore says the final decision on whether to accept the RDKB’s choice will lie with council, but she doesn’t foresee any backlash.
“It will come to council as an information item and if they decide they want to do something further with it, we will,” she said. “I was at the RDKB meeting though and I didn’t have anything to say in Rossland’s defense.”