Debate over fire bill heats up

An unpaid bill is fanning the flames between two North Okanagan jurisdictions

An unpaid bill is fanning the flames between two North Okanagan jurisdictions.

The City of Vernon submitted an invoice to the Regional District of North Okanagan for fighting an Aug. 19, 2013 fire at the Greater Vernon landfill, but payment still has not been received.

“I don’t know how we can be owed almost $80,000,” said Coun. Brian Quiring during a council discussion of the matter. Monday

City staff have stated they are waiting to receive RDNO’s rationale for not making the payment and that information will then come back to council for consideration.

RDNO officials are defending their actions.

“Our understanding that fire protection is typically paid through taxation, not user fees,” said David Sewell, RDNO’s chief administrative officer.

“As the property is within the fire protection boundaries of the City of Vernon and we have never had a bill for any previous services, we were surprised to receive a bill a number of months after the incident. We have requested information regarding the policy and legal basis for the bill and have not received a response.”

In other matters, Vernon council has authorized spending up to $222,083 for a new water tender truck at the Okanagan Landing fire hall.

The move comes outside of the regular budget cycle.

“There is an urgency with station three (Predator Ridge) opening and the time lag to get a new vehicle,” said fire chief Keith Green.

“We want to get the order in as soon as possible.”