District budget takes shape

The proposed 2016 budget sits at $63.6 million, down from $65.1 million in 2015

The Regional District of North Okanagan is hammering out its latest financial plan.

Directors met Wednesday to review the draft 2016 budget.

“There are no significant changes in the document,” said David Sewell, chief administrative officer.

The proposed 2016 budget sits at $63.6 million, down from $65.1 million in 2015.

Each community is requisitioned taxes based on services it receives from RDNO, and that varies.

In fact, the budget impact can change from neighbourhood to neighbourhood depending on what services are in place such as street lights or animal control.

There is no change in the parcel tax requisition for jurisdictions funding the septic collection facility, but $75,000 in capital works are planned.

They include a UV air decontamination unit, entrance/exit door changes and landscaping.

“We don’t feel odours are emanating from the septage facility but if there are minor odours, we want to address them,” said Sewell.

There have been complaints about odours but they may be related to composting organic material on a nearby commercial property.

Also in the budget, expenses are up for the BX-Swan Lake, Lumby and Silver Star volunteer fire departments but that’s mostly because of new provincial regulations.

“There are increases for training. There’s a cost impact,” said Stephen Banmen, general manager of finance.

The tax requisition won’t change for regional transit but Armstrong continues to question why it picks up 28.1 per cent of the cost, more than any other partner, including Vernon.

“It seems wrong. Seriously, it’s time we had a look at it,” said director Shirley Fowler.

A $24.7 million budget is proposed for Greater Vernon Water, including an average two per cent increase in user fees.

There was some suggestion Wednesday that the noxious insect service should be reviewed because it only has a $1,742 budget.

However, director Juliette Cunningham insists no rash decisions be made because there may be a need to tackle mosquitoes in the future.

“If we get a wet year, we could be looking at the Zika virus and other issues. There may be a need to be in a position to respond,” she said.

It’s expected the 2016 budget will be considered for adoption March 23.