According to a recent letter, the residents of West Bench, Sage Mesa, Westwood, Red Wing and Husula Highlands of approximately 1,000 homes contribute to the City of Penticton approximately $300,000 for fire protection, $60,000 for library and $20,000 for the community centre every year. That’s because it’s a bargain and what about the other areas like Naramata, Kaleden, Skaha Hills, the Penticton Indian Band and so on? The letter has the right idea but failed to mention the $20,000 contribution for the recreation centre that hasn’t changed in 20 years.
It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to know that prices have risen. Penticton pays its way forward and the surrounding areas benefit, at the expense of Penticton residents. Fringe area residents come into the city to work, shop and recreate but do not pay taxes to the city, don’t fully fund the recreation centre, use the SOEC that Penticton residents are paying for, think it’s great Penticton residents subsidize new airline flights and so on.
In the last year I probably drove up Westbench once or twice. I’ll best those residents have driven through Penticton streets hundreds of times. They may even operate a business out of their own home and not pay any business license fees to Penticton where they might get most of their business.
The litmus test is who sends their tax payment to City Hall.
While businesses may benefit from attracting employees and shoppers over a larger area, it is the taxpayers to Penticton’s municipal government that are paying the way. The benefits to fringe area residents stands up to the simplest of tests. Why don’t fringe area residents want to amalgamate? It’s because they are better off and don’t have the responsibility for funding roads, water, sewer or social services. Even more, fringe area residents don’t want to buck up for city council’s most recent initiatives for economic development.
In some ways I support these residents given recent council actions such as giving away casino revenues, providing land for questionable ventures on public parks and they probably laugh at the idea of paying for an engagement officer.
Annexations of adjoining areas virtually always experience opposition. They would experience a minor increase in taxes and there would be a gain to the city in which they would be annexed.
Another interesting fact mentioned is that with 1,000 homes in the West Bench area and conservatively estimating about $20,000 of disposable income from each home. It should be a small price to pay to be amalgamated. The letter writer said it would equate to an economic benefit of about $20 million per year for goods and services purchased by our area in the City of Penticton.
Guess what, it’s already there so why wouldn’t they ask to be annexed?