RDOS stays the course at budget talks

Residents of the rural areas of the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen will likely not face any increases or decreases in taxes.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Simlkameen.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Simlkameen.

Residents of the rural areas of the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen will likely not face any increases or decreases in taxes as the RDOS starts eyeing the budget for 2016.

“It looks pretty stable,” said Bill Newell, Chief Administrative Officer of the RDOS.

The first budget committee meetings started last week and the next meeting takes place on Thursday, Dec. 3.

“For us in the electoral areas, for most of our guys, it’s about fiscal responsibility. They don’t have a lot of new things planned, they just like to keep the taxes stable,” Newell said.

One area in the midst of some projects is Area D, which is currently undergoing a governance study looking at the future of government and services in the many communities in the area. The governance study committee currently meets the first Monday of each month at the Okanagan Falls Community Centre. The process is in the early stages distributing fact sheets and information on RDOS services to citizens, but input from residents is always welcome.

“Until we get that study done we won’t know if there are any financial impacts, so it’s just a continuation of the study in 2016,” Newell said.

The area purchased pieces land for parks in 2015, including a piece of property near Skaha Lake in Okanagan Falls, that are looking to be developed heading into the new year as part of the revitalization of downtown Okanagan Falls. The projects may get underway in the new year, but as of right now, there is nothing to budget for.

“They are working on that still. They haven’t come to the board for adoption,” Newell said. “Until you get that plan before the board there really isn’t anything to budget.”

Area E will be looking at borrowing bylaws for the possibility of purchasing parkland in Naramata.

“We are talking with the school district and the tree fruit company right now. They have parcels in some high-profile areas in Naramata right now that aren’t being used. We want to see if the citizens are interested in doing anything with those,” Newell said.

Area F will be unrolling an official community plan in 2016 and work will continue on the West Bench water reservoir.

New to the budget this year will be the regional heritage strategy, though it is not an expensive venture according to Newell.

“If we get director assent on that, that could proceed in 2016. Not much of a cost to that, but it’s an important program,” Newell said. “The cost on a heritage program is very small.”

The service would create an inventory of heritage sites in the Regional District. After an assessment it would be determined if there would be any marketing campaign or protective measures put in place.

A revamping of the transit service is set to continue in 2016, however there won’t be any financial impact likely until 2017.

“That will be a big program for us, so that will be discussed thoroughly at the meetings in 2016,” Newell said.

“It’s still really early in our process so it’s tough to guess where they are going to go,” Newell said.

 

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