EDITORIAL: Ranch must be realistic

It’s unfortunate that management at O’Keefe Ranch have turned the City of Vernon’s 2011 budget into an us and them scenario.

Obviously they are upset that city council shelved a request for $184,500 and only provided an operating grant of $138,000, plus $12,000 for insurance.

“They felt council didn’t understand its request and was misinformed on the issue,” said Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe, council’s representative to the historic site.

But the reality is that the O’Keefe Ranch and Interior Heritage Society doesn’t understand the financial situation facing Vernon taxpayers.

Many people have lost their jobs or had salaries frozen because of the recession. As a result, Vernon council has attempted to keep its impact on residents to a minimum this year, and through a 0.24 per cent tax increase, that has been largely achieved.

No city department got exactly what it wanted.

The number of budgeted officers for the RCMP have been frozen. The front counter at the police detachment won’t be open to the public as frequently as it was. Bylaw enforcement has been reduced and some capital works projects have been put on hold.

There’s no question that council’s decision may require some  belt-tightening at the ranch, which bolsters the economy and preserves our history.

But city taxpayers have made a considerable investment in the attraction over the years, and that shouldn’t be minimized.

Instead of whining about what it didn’t get, O’Keefe Ranch should be appreciative of the support it does get.