Armstrong opposes RDNO taxation plan

Regional District of North Okanagan plan to tax residents to pay for building inspection function doesn't sit well with Armstrong council...

The Regional District of North Okanagan’s plan to shift its building inspection revenue model from collecting fees to taxation will not be supported by the City of Armstrong.

The move comes after the city’s finance and administration committee met with RDNO representatives Trafford Hall and Rob Smailes.

The regional district provides building inspection service to jurisdictions outside of Vernon and Coldstream.

“They came to tell us that the building function is dysfunctional,” said Armstrong Coun. John Trainor, head of the finance and administration committee.

Trainor explained to council that RDNO said they were approximately $390,000 short in the building inspection revenue column over expenses, and that several years ago, the building inspection fees covered the entire cost of running the department, but that’s no longer the case.

One-and-a-half employees have been laid off from the function for a savings of $120,000, but RDNO is still a quarter of a million dollars short.

The board has been going to municipalities outside Vernon and Coldstream suggesting taxation is a way to address the problem.

“This council, in the past, has not been in favour of tax revenues funding the building inspection function and I believe that’s still the flavour of the day here as well,” said Trainor.

The problem moving forward, added Trainor, is one of timing. The regional district is preparing for its budget vote and Trainor said the board’s intention is to have taxation included in the budget.

“It seems to me, though they talked about other options on the table, I don’t think there’s enough time to flush out these options or plan,” he said. “The only fallback is to go to taxation. I just don’t think that’s what we want to do.”

Coun. Paul Britton said the regional district building inspection function has to revisit its business plan.

“When you have $800,000 in costs and only bring in $400,000, you need to revisit your business plan first because something’s out of whack,” said Britton. “Just by asking our taxpayers to fund more cash is not going to fix what they’re doing wrong.”

Couns. Ryan Nitchie and Shirley Fowler – Fowler is Armstrong’s representative on the RDNO board – felt building inspection should draw from reserves, then build up the surpluses by making some needed changes.

In the end, council voted unanimously to pass Trainor’s motion that Fowler not support the regional district budget if the budget includes taxation for building inspection.

RDNO officials also sat down with Township of Spallumcheen officials during a committee of the whole meeting, and township council is expected to discuss the matter at its regular meeting Monday.

The City of Enderby has said it will support the shift towards taxation.