Taxpayers will need to dig a little deeper to pay their share of the draft 2015 budget the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is now sending out for public consultation.
The total tax requisition for RDOS regional services in the electoral areas and member municipalities is set to climb by 11.1 per cent to $4.1 million.
The increase is due mainly to a $100,000 hit to available surplus funds and a planned $436,000 renovation of the organization’s headquarters on Martin Street in downtown Penticton, which will be funded with $225,000 from new taxes and the balance from reserves.
The total tax requisition for services in electoral areas is set to climb by 3.9 per cent to $3.2 million due mainly to service increases, higher administration costs and a $25,000 reduction in available surplus.
RDOS directors gave preliminary approval to the budget with a 17-1 vote at last week’s board meeting.
Cawston Director George Bush was the lone vote in opposition because the requisition for his Area B would cost the average residential property owner there $599.98, up $77.72 from last year.
“It’s one of the highest so I couldn’t vote for any increases,” he said in an interview.
Meanwhile, the average property owner in Penticton can expect to cough up an extra $8.51 this year for a total tax hit of $74.56.
That would lift Penticton’s total requisition by 11.4 per cent to $1.6 million, including an extra $144,617 for general government, $28,389 for regional trails and $12,728 for a regional growth strategy.
Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit supports a short-term tax increase to complete badly needed renovation at the 35-year RDOS headquarters.
“I would have difficulty if this increase meant that would be the (budget) base for next year to go from, but I think next year it will go down again,” he said.
Jakubeit noted the RDOS board considered a range of options to address concerns, such as structural issues and the need for energy efficiency upgrades, at 101 Martin St., but settled on the renovation as the most cost-effective solution for now.
Elsewhere, Summerland will see the average residential property owner’s RDOS requisition increase by $10.88 to $87.43, and in Keremeos the hike is $48.59 to $327.29.
In the rural areas, the average property owner in Naramata can expect to see the requisition rise by $46.02 to $984.81. On the West Bench, the increase is $22.14 to $913.01, and in Okanagan Falls-Kaleden the lift is $28.72 to $600.66.
Despite the increased costs to taxpayers, the combined capital and operating budget for the RDOS is expected to decrease this year by nine per cent to $39.9 million.
The board typically gives the budget final approval in March.