A regional district satellite office will stay open in Okanagan Falls at least for another year.
The idea of closing the office was brought forward by Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen staff during the 2019 budget process.
Bill Newell, CAO for the RDOS, said during Thursday’s meeting the issue of whether the role of the office was in line with what residents were being taxed for first came up in the summer when the regional district was looking for a permanent emergency operation centre and more storage space.
The $159,000 budgeted to operate the office in Okangan Falls is collected under economic development in the budget.
“We saw at that time it didn’t appear to be offering economic development services in Area D where the funds were being charged,” Newell said.
The money was removed from the budgets of Area D and I and then put back in on the direction of the area directors.
Rob Obirek, the director for Area D (Skaha Estates and Okanagan Falls) , said the communities are in an “awkward moment” having just split last year – with this being the first budget of the newly developed Area I (Skaha West, Kaleden, Apex).
“We would like to keep it as status quo for the lease for the year,” Obirek said to fellow directors.
He said he along with Area I director Subrina Monteith would like to see a review of the office before making a decision to close.
“We’d like to bring it to a proper resolution. In respect to recent history the services provided include many economic related services . I think we’re comfortable leaving it as is in regards to the current bylaw,” he said.
He added that he thought all services provided out of the office are components of economic development but a new service area bylaw might need to be drafted depending on the results of the review to reflect clearer intention to the taxpayer.
The budget received first reading on Thursday. As of this post, Area D is looking at a 9.11 per cent increase resulting in an increase in taxes of about $51.81 for the average home now assessed at $463,489. The average homeowner at this point can expect the RDOS portion of their tax bill to be about $857.61.
Residents in Area I as of first reading of the budget are looking at a 8.25 per cent increase, which means about an additional $85.69 coming out of their pocket. The average home in Area I is now assessed at $435,145. The total RDOS portion of the tax bill is estimated at $802.32.
The budget will go out to public consult and still needs to pass second and third reading.
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