Regional district of Okanagan Similkameen adopts budget

South Okanagan directors question late requests for funding at Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen budget talks.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board of directors adopted the 2012 budget after playing the role of Scrooge to some late funding requests.

At the regular board meeting on March 1, RDOS finance manager Warren Everton led board members through a short list of uncontested corrections and adjustments before dealing with questions and the three late requests.

Board members reacted with austerity to the late funding requests.

Several directors expressed concern with Community Futures’ request for $85,000, combined with a request to several member municipalities for funding.

The money is needed to operate the organization’s Economic Gardening program.

“They asked in Osoyoos, and now here,” said Osoyoos director Stu Wells. “It’s double dipping. It is a worthwhile program, but we only want to pay for it once, and that should be here with all the players. There is value in it — let’s get it down to one payment.”

Area G director Angelique Wood expressed similar sentiment regarding double dipping,  noting that the Similkameen Valley Planning Society had also been approached for funding.

Wood felt that Community Futures was applying to too many government sources for funding.

Area D director Tom Siddon commented on the fact that Community Futures had been receiving funding from the Western Diversification Fund, asking what the organization had been doing since 1986. He expressed concerns about the 11h hour nature of the request, noting that providing the funds would add two to three per cent to this year’s tax requisition.

Other directors expressed a need for the regional district to be invested in economic development, with Penticton director Andrew Jakubeit asking if any money had been set aside for regional economic development. To an answer of “No,” he replied, “Maybe that’s what we should be doing.”

Wells expressed similar interest in funding economic development, again praising the work of Community Futures.

Regional district  board chair Dan Ashton pointed out that the request was for $85,000 for this and the next two years as well.

A request for $30,000 from the Seniors Society was also viewed negatively, with Wells commenting that he was “really opposed,” adding that local help should be utilized to deal with the matters to which the Seniors Society was making the funding request. He also noted that the society did not operate in Osoyoos.

“I’ve been trying to work with them to show them how to fundraise,” added Summerland director Janice Perrino. “They have raised a lot on their own in the past.”

It was also suggested that individual areas and municipalities could offer a grant-in-aid.

A late request for $5,000 from Accelerate Okanagan was summarily dismissed, with several directors voicing their opinion that the representatives at the last board meeting did not make the request seriously.

All three funding requests, totalling $120,000, were denied by the board.

Ashton praised the efforts of Everton for his speed and clarity in the presentation of  the 2012 five-year plan.