Budget provides reprieve for Penticton taxpayers

Council whittles down budget to a net zero change from 2011

  • Jan. 19, 2012 6:00 a.m.

The budget deed is done, and there will be no more damage to taxpayers than last year.

Penticton council unanimously agreed to close deliberations on Tuesday after whittling down the deficit to a net zero change in the budget from 2011.

Mayor Dan Ashton said the outcome sets Penticton apart from other municipalities in B.C.

“Minus 0.5 last year and zero this year. That’s unprecedented in the province,” he said, adding that “We keep working on our efficiencies, our productivity and effectiveness at delivering services. Staff is a huge part of this.”

Ashton credited zero-based budgeting — requiring each manager to start at zero and justify each expenditure’s value before addition — and a collaborative review that involved more than 40 staff from all departments.

After whittling down the $2.1 million deficit to nothing, the 2012 budget was completed ahead of schedule. “It’s earlier than ever before. It allows us to get on with a lot of things in the spring before the city fills up with visitors,” Ashton said.

Chief finance officer Doug Leahy said he was able to breathe a sigh of relief on Wednesday after three intensive days of discussions that covered every single city department, its services and capital plans.

“It’s the first year we’ve done this format. It’s quite a drastic change, and it’s already given us some ideas for 2013. There was a lot of material to digest, and hopefully it was informative,” he said.

Three tweaks to the capital budget helped trim spending, which included reducing the allowed amount for the proposed deer cull by half to $10,000. Staff reports had indicated the cost to have a contractor cull one deer is approximately $150. The remaining budget would mean at most 66 deer could be culled, but Ashton explained it was a difficult item to budget because the city still needs to examine the ungulate population and a host of other factors.

“It’s all subject to a count. It’s all subject to approval from the province,” he said. “There’s all sorts of extenuating circumstances. We know it’s an issue. We want to deal with the issue and deal with it in a humane fashion.”

Street light pole inspections will also be scaled back to $15,000 from $75,000, and $25,000 upgrades to the coaches and locker room at the South Okanagan Events Centre have been deferred pending additional information from Global Spectrum. On the operations side, the recreation department will have to come up with an additional $70,000 in revenue from anticipated increases to user fees.

Council also decided to unanimously cover any remaining shortfall with the $800,000 surplus from 2011, topped up with a portion of $400,000 from the interest stabilization reserve fund.

Budget deliberations Tuesday afternoon had to involve council returning to the issue of providing grants to groups seeking financial support in the community.

Seven new civic grant requests were made by a various groups in the community, but only one received approval — the South Okanagan Health Fair received its one-time request of $6,000 for the first phase of establishing itself as a year-long program.

The remaining applications, as well as requests for increases to grants already provided, were denied.

Coun. John Vassilaki said he had been angry they couldn’t make allowances to accommodate the additional requests, particularly for groups servicing seniors and children.

“It really, really upset me that they choose one or another. I’d like to see everything fair for everyone,” Vassilaki said.

Ashton said a review will take place for the policy.

“Council is fully aware of the incredible work and services provided,” he said, adding they are trying to come up with ways to be as equitable as possible.

Three readings of the budget bylaw must be passed, which are scheduled to be heard before final adoption which is tentatively set for the first council meeting in February.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penticton City Hall. (File photo)
Cuts help balance Penticton’s COVID-19 budget

City staff expecting revenue and expenses to come in $4.3 million below 2020’s budget

The Salvation Army thrift store in Penticton will be taking donations for the fire victims. Red Cross will be taking financial donations. (Western News file photo)
Salvation Army, Red Cross help out fire victims

Clothing and household donations can be brought to the Penticton Salvation Army

RCMP are trying to determine why a woman fled the scene of an accident in Sooke. (File - Black Press Media)
Crime rate down in 2019 for Keremeos and Osoyoos, up in Oliver

The crime rate in Keremeos went down in four of the last five years

A fundraising initiative has been set up to help Mirjana Komljenovic, who has been diagnosed with Hermansky Pudlak Syndome and requires $2,000 a month to cover the costs of her medication. (gofundme.com)
Fundraiser created to help Summerland woman with rare condition

Mirjana Komljenovic requires costly medication to treat Hermansky Pudlak Syndome

Heather Pescada is Ms. Halloween and when COVID threatened to ruin her haunted fun, she got creative, inventing a six foot candy chute at her Summerland, Trout Creek home.
(Peskelly Family Facebook page)
Okanagan Halloween house invents huge candy chute

The six foot chute looks like the snake from Nightmare Before Christmas

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

Several police vehicles were seen at the Sagmoen farm on Salmon River Road in Silver Creek on Thursday night, Oct. 29, 2020. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
UPDATE: One person arrested, released following police presence at Sagmoen farm

RCMP were at Silver Creek property where remains of Vernon woman were found in 2017

Vernon Council voted in favour of implementing a 500-metre buffer between all new cannabis stores in the city at its meeting Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Black Press files)
New cannabis shops in Vernon will need to stay 500m apart

The distancing rule won’t apply to existing stores, including the six currently in downtown core

A case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at Little Seedlings Daycare in Armstrong, located beside Highland Park Elementary School (pictured above). Interior Health confirmed the positive case was present at the daycare on Oct. 22 and 23, 2020. (Google image)
COVID-19 case reported at Armstrong daycare

IH letter says positive case was present at Little Seedlings Daycare Oct. 22 and 23

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

A GoFundMe page has been launched to assist Frankie and Billie Douglas as Frankie undergoes surgeries related to an illness which leaves her bones brittle. (GoFundMe photo)
Fundraiser supports Shuswap child battling brittle bone disease

A $5,000 goal has been set to assist Billie and Frankie Douglas as Frankie spends time in hospital

Most Read