PENTICTON - A conservation fund appears to be a diminishing priority for the Okanagan Similkameen Regional District as the 2016 budget takes shape.
After spending $20,000 last year to explore public support for a Regional Conservation Fund, a $40,000 request for referendum funding failed to garner board support, as did a follow up $20,000 request for funding to continue education and public consultation for the fund, according to Finance manager Sandy Croteau.
Penticton residents are presently looking at an increase of $2.02, from $74.53 to $76.55 for the average house, while Summerland residents can expect to pay $2.34 more than last year’s $87.65. Oliver residents will pay $34 more, up from $360 to $394, and Osoyoos residents will pay an additional $4.00 or $151. Keremeos is up $26, from $294 to $320, Princeton is up $1.00 from $27, and the Penticton Indian Band is up $0.71 to $57.99.
The regional district’s rural areas' tax requisitions are up from a low of $8.00 in Area “A" to a high of $64 in Area “E”.
Grant requests totalling $49,500 have been included in the 2016 budget: The Community Foundation ($10,000), Okanagan - Similkameen Healthy Living ($12,000), B.C. Winter Games ($20,000), AlleyCATS Alliance Society ($5,000) and the Meadowlark Festival ($2,500).
Program Change requests totalling $251,600 are also in the 2016 budget as the board approved four temporary positions in the building and sewer departments, and the upgrading of a student position in the Regional Trails department to that of seasonal labourer.
Project and equipment related changes include Lean Training ($20,000), Zoning Workshops ($4,000), Regional Growth Strategy review recommendations )$50,000), Fire Master Plan ($50,000), Asset Management Planning ($15,000) and vehicle replacement for Okanagan Falls sewer ($35,000, funded through reserve).
A placeholder in general government totalling $35,000 has been set aside for the Okanagan Film Development.
The budget will be presented to the regional district board for approval at the January 7, 2016 meeting. Once approved, the budget will be presented to the region’s municipalities and electoral areas for public consultation.