Regional District of Okanagan- Similkameen Finance Manager Warren Everton addressed Keremeos Village Council on January 24 to talk about the RDOS budget for 2011.
He explained to council that the board had added an extra expenditure to the budget this year with the contribution of $200,000 towards the establishment of a Okanagan Basin Water Board Chair, and that debate was currently being undertaken over the possibility of providing $300,000 over the next three years in the form of an Okanagan College Facility grant.
“ I expect we will see more deliberation on the part of the board over this,” he said of future budget discussions.
Everton noted that a Request For Proposal had been issued over regional dispatch services and that $70,000 has been earmarked to look after and continue building the region’s trail network.
The regional district five year plan (2011 – 2016) must be adopted by March 31, although Everton expressed optimism that it could pass the board’s scrutiny by the last February board meeting.
The estimated tax rate for Keremeos in 2011 is $1.30 per 1,000 in assessed value, down from 2010’s assessment rate of $1.34 per thousand.
A decision on garbage rates in the village was deferred until the next meeting after a short discussion. The motion – “That garbage fees in 2011 remain at $135 per household” was deferred until the next meeting with the expectation that by then, the final cost for pickup will have been calculated at the regional district.
(At this point it appears that garbage collection fees will not be increasing, or at least not substantially, in the village for 2011.)
Council voted themselves a 1 1/2 per cent increase at Monday’s meeting, basing the increase on the recently ratified collective agreement with village staff, which also provided for an annual increase of 1 1/2 per cent. Council wasted little time debating the issue, voting unanimously for the raise.
Some discussion took place prior to giving the village’s zoning bylaw first reading. Members of council had previously viewed the lengthy document, and some suggestions and corrections were discussed with the intention of clarifying the bylaw’s intent. The bylaw achieved first reading with some changes and more review to come.
During question period council heard several comments from the gallery regarding council’s pay increase. It was pointed out that, although the increase was by most standards reasonable and acceptable, issue was taken over the process, that being that no one should be allowed to vote themselves an increase without some oversight, or checks and balances. A second comment noted council’s seeming lack of empathy for not acknowledging that there are other working members of the community who have no control over wage increases at all.
Question period also focussed on discussion over garbage collection costs and services. Gallery members wondered what kind of profits were available in garbage collection, and whether the village might be able to do the job and reap the profits themselves.