RDOS Budget Update
Hello Area F,
On Wednesday evening, RDOS CFO Jim Zaffino and I presented the Area F budget via WebEx and in person at the RDOS main office. Click here to watch the recording or here if you'd like access to the Regional Connections RDOS 2023 Budget project page.
Where most municipalities have three to six budgets, the RDOS has 162. That is because Regional Districts are fee-for-service organizations. Each service (West Bench Water, Parks and Recreation, Waste Management, 911 Call Centre, etc.) has its stand-alone budget. Only those who participate in the service pay for the service via your property tax, parcel tax, or user fees.
The Area F budget is $1,562,300 in taxes representing an 8.13% increase* or $124,243. Most of the increase is due to staffing and inflation impacting business costs. Of course, how much of that increase you pay depends on the services you receive.
For example, the most significant increase to the Area F-specific budget comes from Greater West Bench’s fire protection provided by the City of Penticton. This one service accounts for 2.73% of the 8.13% increase*. However, you will not pay for this service if you are in Faulder or North Beach, as this service is not provided in those areas. If you live in Area F and outside of Greater West Bench, your tax increase is closer to 5.4%
Here are some of the more material changes impacting the Area F budget.
Electoral Area Administration and Electoral Area Planning (16.43% + 15.7% increase)
The main contributors to these increased budgets are staff and the cost of running the RDOS. The volume and complexity of work required by the RDOS continue to grow. Finding and retaining staff are ongoing challenges.
Information Services (8.9% increase)
The bottom line is that we need to invest in information services. The RDOS is behind in this investment, impacting the entire organization. There are several one-time investments in hardware and system upgrades. Two new positions include an Information Service Technician and a Geographic Information System (GIS) Analysis.
Greater West Bench Fire Protection (10.89% increase)
Greater West Bench fire protection has increased from $359,613 in 2022 to $398.769 in 2023 (10.89% increase). For our home, the assessed value for 2023 is $1.18, which means our family will pay around $700 for fire protection.
Area F Parks and Recreation (24% increase)
Again, this increase is due to the increasing cost of staff and supplies (inflation). For our home, Parks and Recreation will be about $190 of our property's tax bill.
Important note if you live in Greater West Bench.
I have paused the Mariposa Park Development Project until 2024. There are several reasons why I elected to do this; most notably, the economic outlook for 2023 is still bleak.
In 2022, the average annual inflation rate in British Columbia was 6.9%, the highest in 40 years. More info here.
Citizens will experience a tax increase due to inflation for existing services.
Spending on personal necessities, such as food (+11%), fuel (6.2%), housing (+7.1%), etc., has increased considerably. Consumer Price Index Highlights (Dec. 2022)
Most of the Mariposa Park project cost was going to be covered by Community Gas Works Tax. This tax transfer agreement is set to expire next year. I am hesitant to commit the funds to a single project until we know if the agreement will continue.
There is an asset management project underway for the entire RDOS. This will highlight which budgets have adequate reserves to maintain the assets citizens have already invested in (pedestrian corridor, Selby Park, Mariposa irrigation, etc.)
Thank you for taking the time to read this. The second budget reading will take place this Thursday, February 16. The third reading and adoption are slated for March 2, 2023.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
As always, thank you for reading.
Riley Gettens, Electoral Area F Director