Parks tax climbs 9.1 per cent

The White Valley Parks, Recreation and Culture Advisory Committee agreed to send its 2015 budget to the RDNO board

A hefty tax hike is moving ahead.

On Tuesday, the White Valley Parks, Recreation and Culture Advisory Committee agreed to send its 2015 budget to the Regional District of North Okanagan board for ratification. It calls for a 9.1 per cent tax increase which will generate about $71,000.

“We had to deal with a situation,” said Rick Fairbairn, chairperson.

A significant boost in taxes is needed because of a decision years ago by Coldstream to remove Lavington from the White Valley parks service and put it into the Greater Vernon function. The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee paid $114,000 a year to cover Lavington’s portion of existing debt load with White Valley but that agreement is now completed.

The shortfall of $114,000 has been reduced to $71,000 through contracts for maintenance and other services being frozen and provincial funds covering capital projects.

Initially, a 9.8 per cent tax increase was proposed.

“We are doing our best to conserve money in-house and staff have done their best,” said director Randal Ostafichuk.

“We’re not cutting back on programs.”

The budget was brought down through some additional fee revenue that was identified, and some reduction in utility costs.

The 2015 budget will include an additional $60,000 going into capital reserves.

“It should be up around $120,000,” said Fairbairn of the financial limitations facing the committee.

It’s not known when the RDNO board will consider the budget.