Property taxes

Regional districts work on a "service area" model. For example, certain parts of Faulder are provided with water from a system operated by the RDOS. Residents within that service area pay for all the costs associated with the Faulder water system whereas residents outside the service area pay nothing towards it. In contrast, the neighborhoods on the west side of Penticton pay for fire protection; however, Faulder does not pay for fire protection because it does not receive this service.

This strict segregation of budgets according to services makes sense in Area F, which has a mix of rural and semi-rural residences, different priorities, and varying access to infrastructure. An implication of this model is that the set of line items on your tax bill (and thus the amount you are expected to pay) varies depending on your location within the regional district and even within Area F.


Two-tiered user fees

I sent the following email to Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton regarding two-tiered user fees for recreational assets owned by the City of Penticton:

-----Original Message-----
From: "Michael Brydon"
To: "Dan Ashton"
Subject: Two-tiered recreation fees

Hi Dan,

I was just catching up on my reading following a couple of weeks of vacation and was alarmed to read a story in the Herald (12 Mar, 2009) about the City of Penticton "scrambling" to implement a two-tiered recreation fee. I inherited a binder from Ron Perrie entitled "Sub-Regional Recreation" that discusses the current situation in which 23% of those who register for programs with the City of Penticton's Recreation Department are not residents of the City. Documents in the binder argues for "fairness" in shouldering the burden of subsidies for these programs.

The city of peaches and beaches?

The RDOS recently followed the lead of other regional districts in the Okanagan and awarded a grant to the Okanagan Film Commission.  I am against such grants/subsidies for many reasons.  But the most important is that the economic impact of film production in the Okanagan is negligible.  Indeed, the economic impact of the entire tourism sector is much smaller than most people realize.

I collected some census data and submitted a report to the RDOS board in order to back up these claims.  The full report can be found here, although the central argument is captured in the graphic below

Sources of income in the RDOS


2009 RDOS budget

Update: 29 July, 2009:

Some of us received a bit of a shock on our 2009 Rural Property Tax Notices.  The mill rate* for 2008 was 0.5084 but 0.8665 in 2009—a 70% tax increase for this year!  Thanks to Larry McNary for brining this to my attention.

This puzzles me because the total budget for Area 'F' (not including specific service areas, such as Faulder water, OK Regional Library, police tax, etc.) dropped from $312K in 2008 to $300K in 2009.  Of course, the total assessed value of Area 'F' also dropped due to the loss of Red Wing (see below). But still, the 70% increase does not (yet) make sense to me.

Regional budget under fire

By Joyce Langerak - Penticton Western News Published: February 28, 2009

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is working on a budget which at this point would see taxes go up 13.4 per cent.

That’s not acceptable, says Penticton Coun. John Vassilaki who also sits on the board of the RDOS.

Penticton pays 42 per cent of administrative cost for the RDOS, he explained. In the budget proposed for 2009, that number has gone up by about $220,000 — 15.5 per cent over last year. Along with other increases included in the budget draft, the total taxes would rise from $11,050,000 to $12,526,000 — an overall increase of 13.4 per cent.

“Those figures are not palatable to me,” said Vassilaki. “The City of Penticton is also trying for a zero increase. There’s no way on earth I’ll be voting in favour of such an increase when we’re trying at the city to make it zero.”


City staff feel the blow of budget axe

By Kristi Patton - Penticton Western News

Published: February 19, 2009 10:00 AM
Updated: February 20, 2009 6:41 AM

“It has been a very tough decision for everybody especially when you start dealing with people’s livelihoods,” said Mayor Dan Ashton, adding the cutbacks have come at the suggestion of senior staff. “My interpretation of it is you are not taking a look to save money in a budget, you are taking a look at efficiencies and these were the proposals brought forward.”

The layoffs of eight management and other non-union staff equals a reduction in the budget by $793,115. Besides putting a freeze on hiring, other measures have also been taken such as a ban on overtime, holiday relief and there is a consideration for delaying the return of the seasonal employees.