The Regional District Okanagan Similkameen recently hired a part time communications officer.
The move comes after 2012 budget request for a $67,000 communications position was turned down by the RDOS Board of Directors. The board did, however, approve $25,000 for communications and the money was used to hire a consultant to, in the words of Chief Adminstrative Officer Bill Newell, “focus on positve news stories and begin the framework for a communications plan.”
The board did not approve a full time position in the 2013 budget, either; however, a further $25,000 was approved, and by combining with funds from several other budgets, the RDOS was able to fund a half time position.
The action sounds similar to one implemented by the Village of Keremeos a couple of years ago, when a new full time maintenance position was created through part time wage allotments and grant funding in the first year, and sold to the public that way. Since then, however, that full time position has been paid for completely by the taxpayer.
We are concerned at the methods by which municipal governments grow their staff. For the last two years, the board has not seen fit to hire a communications officer, but suddenly, the regional district has a part time one.
How long will it be before that position becomes full time?
As far as press coverage goes, the regional district is certainly better served by local media lately than at any time in the previous five years, when much of the time board meetings were covered by only two newspapers. Now, there are regularly five or six reporters in the gallery. In addition, the regional district has done an excellent job in the past of sending out regular press releases regarding activities and programs in the regional district.
We are also concerned about the fact that the regional district would spend thousands of tax dollars on the creation of a new position at a time when nothing else is growing in the local economy.