South Okanagan residents could be paying more in taxes if the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen passes the draft budget for 2015.
The total budget has increased from $3.72 million to $4.14 million this year, mostly due to a $436,000 capital expenditure to renovate the RDOS building at 101 Martin St. in Penticton. There is also $100,000 decrease in the surplus from the previous budget.
The budget passed first reading on Jan. 22 and is now out for public consultation.
The average increase in cost for a homeowner in the RDOS will work out to $7.48/year.
Here is a short list of some areas that will see increases:
Penticton: $8.51 increase equalling $74.56/year
Naramata: $46.02 increase equalling $984.81/year
Westbench: $22.14 increase equalling $913.01/year
Summerland: $10.88 increase equalling $87.43/year
Oliver: $34.54 increase equalling $360.28/year
Keremeos: $48.59 increase equalling $327.29/year
Cawston: $77.72 increase equalling $599.98/year (The biggest jump)
In Penticton, the budget for general government is increasing by $144,000 to $589,000, which according to Mayor Andrew Jakubeit is largely due to increased property values.
Jakubueit said he is not particularly concerned with the increases in 2015 because he expects the numbers to go down after the renovation of the RDOS building.
"My concern would be if next year Penticton's starting point was this year's requisition level and continues to go up," he said. "But the majority of that increase is a one time hit to deal with the renovation. The board debated whether to just deal with it out of this year's assessment or borrowing and paying interest, which ends up being more. The board decided to deal with it now."
Sandy Croteau, manager of finance at the RDOS, said the renovation could increase usable office space by 30 per cent and create a more public friendly interface.
"$210,000 is coming from reserves and the rest is coming from taxation at this point," Croteau said. "That takes the majority of general government reserves."
The budget for regional trails has increased from $76,907 to $145,767 in 2015, but that is due to the loss of revenue sources, not an actual increase in spending.
"The overall operating costs of the budget aren't significantly changed but the other revenue source is gone," Croteau said. "There's the drop in prior-year surplus and we had a provincial contribution that has decreased by $15k this year."
Croteau said she has been out to Oliver and Electoral Area E already for budget discussions. No one has yet brought forward any issues they would like reexamined by the board.
According to Croteau, in 2014 the combined operating and capital budgets totalled $40.1 million and in 2015 that is coming down to about $37 million. The decrease is largely due to a few big capital projects which are not in the 2015 budget, she said.
Public consultations are being held in all areas and municipalities prior to approval of the budget. Check out the schedule on the RDOS website.