Council aims to be ‘fiscally responsible’

Potential tax hikes could be sidelined as a way of supporting recession-weary Vernonites.

Potential tax hikes could be sidelined as a way of supporting recession-weary Vernonites.

Members of city council continue to develop the 2012 budget.

“The sentiment on council is we don’t want to see an increase in taxes,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.

“But we will have to see how it goes over the course of our deliberations.”

Council recently established a tax increase range of zero to 2.3 per cent so discussions can proceed.

Sawatzky points out that council duties only began Dec. 5 and he and some of the councillors are completely new to the civic process.

“We don’t know what’s been committed to and what’s been promised (by the previous administration),” he said.

“But these are tough economic times and it would be irresponsible to do anything but be fiscally responsible.”

Sawatzky doesn’t believe increased knowledge of the budget and operations will force him to back off a promised review of city services.

“I’m not sure a single budget will change that but the budget will definitely be part of the education,” he said.

Sawatzky says the end result of a review is not to cut services or lay staff off, but he admits that some operational changes could occur.

“The hope is we don’t have to make too many tough decisions.”

Tying in with the budget and a service review will be trying to increase city revenue through economic development.

“We need to communicate with the people who drive the economy and see what we can do (for them),” said Sawatzky.

“By law, council is limited in its authority but we can collaborate with business people.”

Sawatzky believes Vernon is well poised to stimulate the economy and job growth while addressing public concerns about urban sprawl.

“We have an official community plan and a lot of work went into it. We also have the city centre neighbourhood plan,” he said.

A contentious issue over the past year has been the installation of bicycle paths, particularly as part of reducing vehicle lanes in commercial areas.

Sawatzky isn’t sure if his council will continue with that focus or take a different direction.

“Whether anything will happen in today’s economic environment, I don’t know,” he said.

Another issue on council’s radar during 2012 will be the city’s relationship with Coldstream and the Regional District of North Okanagan.

Sawatzky began trying to address conflicts over water and parks and water prior to even being elected as mayor.

“Things are driven by the attitude and intent of people,” he said of local officials.

“If people want peace, prosperity and good government, people will work hard at it.”

However, Sawatzky admits there will be times when the interests of Vernon may differ from the needs of neighbouring jurisdictions.

“You need to understand your perspective and their perspective and hope there is enough overlap,” he said.

 

Just Posted

CDART trains North Okanagan volunteers

Regional group looking to form to help animals in cases of emergencies and disasters

Mix of sun and cloud for the Okanagan-Similkameen Shuswap

Chance of showers for much of the region this afternoon

PHOTOS: Vernon’s Summer Music Festival a hit at Caetani Centre

Acts from Argentina to Vernon gathered in the back yard of the Pleasant Valley home Saturday

East Hill rats not uncommon in Vernon

Man sees rat in back yard of East Hill home for 30 years, but wildlife expert said that’s not rare

PHOTOS: Grindrod Days brings smiles

Day-long celebration features antique tractor parade, old-fashioned games, animals and fun

When walls talk: Vernon murals see generation II

“This new movement, an app, will bring the strength of some of those same Vernon visionaries together again into a newdigital form”

Update: Coroner investigating after body recovered from Okanagan Lake

Penticton fire department assisted the RCMP with the recovery of a body Saturday

Two brands of ice cream sandwiches recalled due to presence of metal

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall on Iceberg and Originale Augustin brands

Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Rates of police-reported sexual assault rose for the fourth year in a row

Donkeys await your hugs and scritches at anniversary event

Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge invites public to help celebrate 20 years of care.

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

Water quality makes swimming unsafe at three beaches near Salmon Arm

The Adams Lake Indian Band has issued a water qulity notice affecting beaches at three campgrounds.

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Most Read