Regional district asking for more from Penticton taxpayers

Chief financial officer for the RDOS said the increase is similar to other years

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is going to be asking for about 8.12 per cent more from Penticton taxpayers in 2019.

This translates to a $154,449 increase across the board in the service categories the city accesses, according to John Kurvink, chief financial officer for the RDOS, who delivered the draft RDOS budget to Penticton city council on Feb. 5.

Kurvink said this increase is similar to other years and noted that “since 2009, the RDOS has been under tight budget constraints” and this increase is a sign that “the chicken have come home to roost with the turnover in the regional district and people away on leave.” He said property assessments for the region, including Penticton, affect the percentage the city is required to pay for services as well.

“Property assessments are a big factor of the regional budget. You think of a large pie and really it is sliced up by the land and improvements, how those vary across the region,” said Kurvink. “So as the assessments change, the mix of who bears the burden shifts.

“The City of Penticton comprises 40.7 per cent of the assessed value, that’s down a little bit for 2018. So that’s good news, all things being equal for the city. It means you would bear slightly less of the overall tax burden for regional services.”

Kurvink noted property assessments in the city of Penticton went up 9.12 per cent but the region, as a whole, went up by 9.29 per cent. Kurvink explained the overall RDOS budget is expected to drop 14.7 per cent with the operating budget going up and the debt repayment for member municipalities going down.

The biggest increase for Penticton from the RDOS falls under general government service, which increases $61,665 from 2018. Kurvink said the reason is the RDOS “is carrying in a lower surplus for 2019 compared to last year.”

Emergency planning and 9-1-1 services through RDOS both increased $32,254 and $11,820 respectively for the city. Kurvink said these increases are due to costs passed onto the district by the Central Okanagan Regional District for the dispatch centre, as well as the increase in fire and flooding over the past two years.

The regional transit tax requisition for Penticton is $20,526, which Kurvink said ties into the proposed Kelowna-Penticton route that BC Transit is planning. He explained that the solid waste management service is also being increased because “last year they had a large transfer from the operating reserve to offset tax requisition and it isn’t budgeted for at this point.”

Kurvink noted that the requisition provided by the Okanagan Basin Water Board, which is $8,155, a 1.66 per cent increase, is decided by the board and while the RDOS has members on this board, they have no say over the budget once it’s determined.

“The average home in Penticton is $464,000, so the tax bill from the regional district would be about $100,” said Kurvink.

The Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital District, which provides funding for capital and equipment, will see an increase of $36,354 from last year due to higher interest costs. Kurvink said historically this has been a 40/60 split with the province paying the bulk.

“That budget is $20.1 million this year. The hospital tower was completed in December. That was a $117 million project that was about 58 per cent from debt and the rest from reserve,” said Kurvink. “There was another $5.9 million in equipment. The ask for 2019 is actually $1.2 or $1.3 million, the rest is carry-over asks from prior years from Interior Health. It takes them some time to do their purchasing because they have to involve the physicians and do clinical trials.”

Kurvink said the hospital budget “impact on the typical house is about $112” and that “the budget has been pretty stable over the last few years.” This equates to a 6.4 tax requisition increase.

Residents can calculate the RDOS tax requisition for their household by using their property assessment notices, dividing by 1000 and multiplying by 0.26352. This is pending the budget approval as it currently stands.

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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