West Kelowna loses its way

The 2019 City of West Kelowna budget increase at 3 per cent was able to accommodate all costs including new firefighters, a new police officer, and 10 new city staffers. But council wants more, and indicated they looked at 4.88 per cent.

Council and staff can all afford the continuing increases, but what about pensioners or low-income residents? Has council even considered that even an extra couple of bucks a month could be onerous to some?

Th following cost increases are coming:

  • Property Tax Increases of 3.88 per cent
  • Sewer Cost Increases of (most probably) 3 per cent
  • Water Cost Increases of (most probably) 25-30 per cent (based on previous reports and increases)
  • A new Franchise Fee by Fortis that goes directly to the city of 3 per cent over and above the increase of 9 per cent that Fortis has already increased this year.
  • A proposed $8 million parcel tax cost to taxpayers for a new Fire Hall.
  • Increased user fees on all of our public facilities such as Johnson Bentley Pool, Arena, etc.

Yes, cost increases are inevitable because wages and building costs increase. However, what about the wastage? A soccer dome that went from $1.5 million to $4.6 million - Having to spend $400,000 replacing a 12-year-old roof on the Powers Creek Plant (where is the roof guarantee?) - $9.2 million wine trail costs for 1.3 kilometres of road (yes I know it included a water main but that still means $8 million for 1.3k of pavement) - $300,000 for a consultant to design the 1.3k of wine trail road - $300,000 for a consultant to come up with a detailed layout for a works yard - (both those two consulting fees alone could pay for five highly paid design-engineering staff for an entire year) - $75,000 for a consultant to develop a road maintenance contract, etc. 

Is it time to rethink how our city is being managed? Is our council being conned by suppliers wanting to make an easy few 100,000? Should we rethink our city staffing verses going out to consultants and suppliers? Are we spending the tax dollars wisely, and do we have in place proper priorities of needs verses wants?

Gordon Ernest, West Kelowna

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