City turns down request for power rate break

Electrical rates are on the way up in Penticton. - Wikimedia Commons
Electrical rates are on the way up in Penticton.
— image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Other than garnering some sympathy from a couple of politicians, the school board came up short in its bid to have the city cut it a break on its escalating power bills.

A four per cent increase in the cost of electricity from the City of Penticton’s power utility is expected to see the Okanagan Skaha School District hit for an additional $30,000 annually, contributing to an estimated $1.2-million budget shortfall for 2014-15.

District staff initially pegged the cost spike at upwards of $70,000, but the estimated impact was revised downward after further study.

The school board in January asked city council asking to be exempt from rate increases, since its primary source of revenue is government funding tied to declining student enrolment.

Council received the letter at its meeting Monday but took no action.

“While I certainly sympathize with the school district and the position that they’re put in, I think it’s important to realize that there’s a funding problem for school districts in terms of the responsibility the provincial government has to them,” said Coun. Wes Hopkin.

“And I realize they’re in a tough squeeze, but for us to set a precedent where local taxpayers start subsidizing school board operations when that really is a provincial responsibility and should be a cost shared by all members of the province is, I think, setting us down a scary, slippery slope.”

Coun. Katie Robinson agreed.

“To me, that’s just another downloading from another level of government again,” she said.


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