The Regional District of North Okanagan’s finances are in good shape following a recent audit. (File photo)

North Okanagan regional district’s finances in great shape

Audit shows RDNO finished 2019 under budget with plenty in reserves

The Regional District of North Okanagan remains in a strong financial position.

The district’s 2019 financial statements were audited and approved by the RDNO audit committee and board of directors.

The numbers show RDNO completed the year under budget, while reserve balances increased by $8.7 million and long-term debt decreased by $5.7 million.

“Creating strong financial policies and plans has allowed the RDNO to maintain and improve upon its strong financial position,” said RDNO finance general manager Stephen Banmen. “Keeping tax increases to inflationary levels, while still providing a growing and a high level of service, is a significant accomplishment. We commend the board for their strong fiscal leadership and direction.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has had negative impacts on many organizations, the RDNO has been closely monitoring and managing its financial situation and is confident that its cash flow requirements will continue to be met through the pandemic.

The RDNO continues to move forward with its budgeted and planned capital projects. The 2020 capital budget totals more than $35 million, although this figure includes some multi-year projects.

“We have maintained our planned capital program and have not canceled any construction projects,” said Banmen. “By doing so, we continue to invest significantly in our local economy and continue to maintain and upgrade important public amenities and infrastructure.”

Some of the current or recently completed capital projects include the Pat Duke Memorial Arena upgrades in Lumby, water main replacement projects, Okanagan Rail Trail erosion mitigation, and the Middleton Mountain trail upgrades.

The RDNO’s revenue has experienced some negative impacts due to the pandemic, such as not collecting transit fares and not being able to rent out recreation amenities like the Greater Vernon Athletics Park. However, the regional district has taken actions to offset the decrease in revenue, such as the elimination of some discretionary-type spending and the delay in filling some vacant positions.

A further measure has been implemented in an effort to help ease the financial strain and cash flow challenges for residents.

The board approved an extension in the billing cycles for its utility systems within the electoral areas of the North Okanagan. Depending on the billing frequency of the particular water or sewer utility, the RDNO’s utility bills are being delayed up to 60 days.

The RDNO continues to provide the majority of its services to the community throughout this difficult time. Building permit and planning applications are still being processed and building inspections are still being conducted. The regional district continues to provide safe drinking water and fire protection, as well as serving customers at the Diversion and Disposal Facilities. Precautions have been implemented to make these services accessible and safe to residents and staff.

READ MORE: North Okanagan district discourages campfires amid COVID-19

READ MORE: Regional District of North Okanagan planner recognized

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