Coldstream considers cutting staff overtime costs

A white Christmas could rack up some significant costs for Coldstream taxpayers.

A white Christmas could rack up some significant costs for Coldstream taxpayers.

The district office will be closed Dec. 22 and is re-opening Jan. 2. But that also means the public works department will be closed. Therefore if crews are needed to plow snow, they will be paid double time.

“That’s 13 days, in the middle of winter and if there’s a snow storm we’d have to pay overtime,” said Coun. Maria Besso.

Coun. Pat Cochrane adds: “That doesn’t seem fair to the taxpayer.”

If the office remained open, staff would only be paid double time for statutory holidays and any extra hours worked.

Therefore the district is looking into what, if any, cost savings there might be to keep the office open, or possibly just the public works department, over Christmas break.

Effectively, there are four days in between the weekends and stat holidays that are being looked at.

Library taxing

It’s becoming quite taxing to operate the local library, says one Coldstream councillor.

The Okanagan Regional Library has come up with a 3.35 per cent tax increase for 2012 (worth approximately $538,000).

In this digital age, Coun. Peter McClean questions the need for increases at the library.

“The library is the one entity that year, after year, after year they bring up and get an increase,” said McClean. “It’s always there, there’s always an increase, while the rest of us are containing it.”

Coun. Maria Besso, ORL board member, defends the library’s budget.

“Part of the increase includes the growth of the region because it’s quite a large region,” said Besso of the 370,000 residents served between Osoyoos to Golden (29 branches) – the third largest in the province.

“While the absolute dollar figures might be up we’ve also increased the number of households that are being taxed and served.”

Still, McClean questions how many people actually use the library.

“What’s the actual usage? What’s that increase giving us?”

Besso points out that Vernon has some of the highest usage.

“We actually have the highest circulation.”

Mission pockets politician’s pay

Coldstream politicians are supporting the Upper Room Mission straight out of their own expenses.

The district is providing the mission with $1,116, which will come from council expenses.

The funds are Coldstream’s portion of a $9,200 grant through the Regional District of North Okanagan.

That is the amount of a fee the Upper Room Mission wants waived for a water main upgrade to its facility, which provides meals and programs to people in need.

Individual jurisdictions are being asked to provide funds because RDNO does not have the ability to provide grants.