taxes

2015 taxes in Area F

Frequent visitors to this site know that I think taxes in regional districts are complex and frustrating. They are complex because hundreds of different services are offered to different groups of residents.  Sometimes these groups correspond to our electoral area boundaries and sometimes they do not.  So in the 500 pages in the RDOS budget, only a portion is relevant to you.

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West Bench water meters

I have been asked several times about the rationale for "mock water bills".  The simple answer is that the RDOS needs to collect some baseline data on water usage on the West Bench before it rolls out a meter-based billing system.  Development of a metered pricing scheme is more complicated than many people seem to appreciate (more on this below).  A secondary reason is to give our Public Works Department time to debug the system.  There may be leaks in the new pipes; the water meters might not be working properly.  A phased implementation allows RDOS staff to fix these problems before sending out completely off-the-wall water bills.

A metered pricing scheme

Some West Bench residents support a fully metered scheme. For this we would take the total operating cost of the West Bench Water System (approximately $350K/year), divide it by total water usage (say 500 m3) and charge all West Bench residents $0.70 per m3 of water.

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More on the economics of commutation: Three models

I got some questions last week from members of the Area F Parks Commission about the commutation option for the West Bench water system.  I appreciate that not everyone spends a lot of time doing discounted cash flow calculations so I have provided a simplified spreadsheet model (see the link below).  We identified three options:

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Poll shows rural residents support two-tier rates

The results of the citizens' survey can be found here.

Nearly two-thirds of rural residents would rather pay higher user fees than see their taxes go up to pay for facilities in neighbouring municipalities, according to a new citizens’ survey.

Sixty-four per cent of people polled by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen preferred the idea of a two-tiered rate structure so those who use public facilities elsewhere pay their fair share.

The commutation option

I have received some questions recently about the two letters that went out to ratepayers on the new West Bench water system last week.  The first letter contained information about the option to commute payments for the capital costs of the West Bench water system upgrade.  The second letter was a mock water bill, giving people some preliminary information about their water usage relative to other West Bench properties.

Commutation letter (template)

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Council restores firefighter positions

Funding for the two firefighter positions cut in the 2014 budget will be restored in the 2015 budget, Penticton city council announced Monday.

According to Mayor Garry Litke, the city has been in talks with the Penticton Indian Band since the spring, developing an agreement to provide fire protection, first responder and fire safety inspection services to the band’s new development and residential areas (non-native leasehold improvements) east of the Penticton Channel: Skaha Hills, Riva Ridge, Barefoot Beach Resort, Wright’s Beach Campground and Red Wing.

Resident urges audit of West Bench water bills

A property owner on the West Bench is calling for an audit of the community’s water billing practices to determine how many ratepayers are receiving special discounts.

Ronald Johnson said he discovered three years ago that some West Bench residents have  exemptions to avoid paying the per-acre water charge on non-irrigable parts of their properties, like gullies.

In one case, he discovered a landowner was being billed for just two of 28 acres, and based on his inquiries believes up to 10 such exemptions have been granted since 1996.

Tax rates over time

A natural question to ask regarding taxes in Area F is: How are they changing over time?

Unfortunately, this is a difficult question to answer because different parts of Area F belong to different service areas (water, garbage, fire protection, and so on).  Moreover, some services have changed over the years.  For example, curb-side pickup of recyclables is now paid for by producers (though MMBC) rather than by taxpayers (keep in mind: you are paying either way; only the incentives are different).  At the same time, curb-side pick-up of yard waste has been expanded.  So the service in 2014 is different from the service in 2006.

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April 2012 summary of West Bench water deal

Below is a link to the presentation I gave on April 2, 2012, to West Bench residents.  The purpose was to gather support for the proposed "bulk water deal" with the City of Penticton.

West Bench Presentation (02 April 2012

I have attached this as a Power Point presentation because it contains animations.  A free Power Point view can be downloaded from Microsoft. A non-animated PDF version is below:

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