The Village of Keremeos presented its draft budget to the public at the regular council meeting on April 2.
It was dismaying to find out the village had come up with $24,750 for an office upgrade – dismaying because a good portion of that money went towards renovation of a portion of the building that had previously housed the Keremeos Day Program.
There seems to be no valid reason for the village to be investing taxpayers money in office expansion – when so many other things need to be fixed, replaced or upgraded (items that more directly affect the residents) and are seemingly left undone.
In light of the economic times this village has faced since the present council and administration took over roughly 16 months ago, what has precipitated the sudden need for an additional 25 per cent of office space?
The funding for the office renovations comes out of Gas Tax Funds, in this case to be used for energy upgrades, so it might be argued that local taxpayers aren’t footing the bill.
Let’s not kid ourselves as to where the money is coming from, whether it’s federal, provincial or municipal sources, it is all tax payers money.
The village replied to our questions by telling us that they wouldn’t be losing rental revenue because the Keremeos Day Program moved to the basement of Victory Hall. The village says that space “could not be rented” but it has indeed, been rented in the past. (It has been vacant since provincial cuts resulted in the loss of WorkZone services in the community two years ago).
The village also say they need the expanded space to “be in compliance with Worksafe and fire safety regulations” because they had to move a “large number of filing cabinets out of the office hallway.”
Would this type of expense – and reasoning stand up to a similar situation in the private sector? We strongly suspect not.
What appears to be missing in this case is a lack of scrutiny and oversight on the part of a council who seem all too willing to turn a blind eye to such spending requests.