Armstrong wants to pull out of the Regional District of North Okanagan’s building inspection function.
The move comes after the regional district voted in favour of taxation as a way to overcome a substantial shortfall in building inspection revenues.
Armstrong had voted not to support such a motion, and council representative Shirley Fowler voted against taxation at the regional district meeting.
“What this now means to us is Armstrong will have a 26.5 per cent increase in tax requisition to the regional district,” said Fowler, adding that Spallumcheen is facing a 20.9 per cent increase as well. They are the only two municipalities whose increases will be in double digits.
“We are going to be paying an extra $18,794 for building inspection, $17,437 extra for solid waste spending and an extra $19,195 for transit,” said Fowler. “It amounts to a $50,000 increase to the regional district for Armstrong.”
Coun. Ryan Nitchie made the motion for the city to give RDNO one year’s notice of withdrawing, calling the decision to tax citizens to pay for building inspection “ridiculous.”
“I don’t think that the regional district has the ability to operate building inspection efficiently for us,” said Nitchie. “Now we’re going to be taxed $18,000 on top of what our users already pay.
“This is the third strike. We’ve asked for a fair shake on transit, we haven’t got it. We’ve asked for a fair shake on SIR (Sterile Insect Release), we still haven’t got it. This is the third one. I think enough is enough.”
Councillors Sully O’Sullivan, Kelly Rowe and Paul Britton concurred with Nitchie.
“We talk about downloading from big government, the regional district has treated us even worse than when big governments download things,” said Britton. “I don’t think it’s fair to our citizens that the regional district, because they can’t operate their functions properly, keep downloading onto the taxpayers of Armstrong.”
Nitchie’s motion passed by a vote of 4-2 (Coun. John Trainor was absent from Monday’s council meeting), with Fowler and Mayor Chris Pieper hoping that cooler heads would prevail.
“I think the regional district needs a chance to reply to us,” said Pieper. “They had to pass their budget. It’s a year now before next year’s budget. They have to take this seriously. I’d like to give them a chance for awhile.”
Fowler wanted to hold off passing the motion and see how, if at all, things change with the function.
Armstrong administrator Patti Ferguson said the city would have to negotiate its way out of the building inspection function with RDNO.
“We’re giving notice to withdraw and we’d have to provide rationale why the service is not working,” said Ferguson.