There is a war of words brewing between the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District and the members of the Garibaldi Fire Department and according to the fire chief, the taxpayers will be the ones who pay if the situation is not resolved.
Garibaldi Fire Chief Nelson Bastien said the taxpayers based in and around Black Tusk and Pinecrest Village might be forced to pay $90,000 more than is necessary for a new fire truck if the SLRD does not review bylaw No. 914.
But Bastien said if the taxpayers refuse to pay some money then they might be hit with an increase in insurance premiums because a suitable fire truck will not be protecting their homes.
This situation unravelled earlier this month when the SLRD announced its intentions for the "Garibaldi Fire Protection Specified Area" in an advertisement.
The advertisement said the SLRD wanted to raise $160,000 for a new fire truck.
But the SLRD also indicated that to borrow $160,000 the "average taxpayer’s annual charges (in Garibaldi fire protection area) will be increased by approximately $85 per year for 15 years."
The advertisement also states that if 10 per cent of the electors in the area vote against the motion, by signing an elector response form, then the bylaw would not proceed.
And this is what Chief Bastien is worried about because he believes $85 for 15 years is too much for the community to pay, but the area still needs a new fire truck and that won’t happen, in the short term, if the taxpayers vote against it.
The answer, according to Bastien, who has been a volunteer with the department since 1977, is for the SLRD to "listen" because he has already found a new fire truck, at a price of $70,000.
If the SLRD does edit bylaw No. 914 so the community only has to pay $70,000 in total for a new fire truck then, according to Bastien, the situation could be easily resolved.
"When a fire truck is 25 years old and they're the first truck to respond to a fire, the (insurance) underwriters don't recognize those trucks," said Bastien.
"They want trucks 25 years or less in age so there's some reliability to them.
"So when a truck rolls up to that age you start budgeting ahead of time to replace it.
"I did that budget process (in 2003) and it looked like the best I could do for 2004 was $160,000 for a new truck.
"Because to buy a fire truck of much substance for around $150,000 is a real stretch.
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