Armstrong grills RDNO over bill

Armstrong puts Regional District of North Okanagan in hot seat over bills

He was their guest, and David Sewell ended up in the hot seat.

Coming to meet at the City of Armstrong’s request, Sewell – the general manager of finance for the Regional District of North Okanagan – sat and listened to the city’s concerns over the ramifications of the regional district’s financial plan and how it affects Armstrong.

“It’s no secret our city has issues with what’s been happening at regional district in terms of increases in costs of services or new ways of financing old services,” said Coun. John Trainor, who is chair of Armstrong’s finance committee.

Specifically, there are three main problems the city has with its regional district bill.

One is the building inspection function. The city voted against paying for a shortfall through taxation, but a vote went in favour of taxation.

“This city is not only opposed to taxation, but it should be based on user-pay,” said Trainor.

Armstrong is upset with a $17,500 increase in its solid waste bill, which Trainor said is attributed to landfill issues and putting money aside for future landfill costs.

But the biggest issue for the city is transit.

Trainor said the city pays 28 per cent of the regional district’s transit costs, and the requisition for 2012 for Armstrong went up to $69,000 for the year.

“That’s a huge amount for a city our size,” said Trainor.

Coun. Paul Britton, who gave Sewell credit for “coming to sit in the fire,” said it’s frustrating when the city is trying to hold its taxes to a two per cent increase, then watch their regional district bill jump 27 per cent.

“There’s no control over it,” said Britton. “Our transit costs have gone from $30,000 to $70,000. There are people using transit that should be paying more. Armstrong is subsidizing transit for other communities.”

Trainor would like to see transit become a regional function or a core service as it would be “the only way we ever get a fair shake out of this.”

Trainor lauded Sewell for coming in person to listen to the city’s issues.

“He understands our concerns,” said Trainor.