Spring flood costing Kelowna $3.3 million

Council has approved the city's plan to put up $3.3 million, to pay for recovery costs for the spring flooding.

That's nearly 31% of the 10.7 million dollar estimated price tag, and includes a $547,000 pool of contingency cash.

Infrastructure Director Alan Newcombe says there's also a good reason why some repair work isn't as far along as some people think it should be, as getting proper permits from the province is time consuming.

"It's a slow process, the province has put additional resources on, and from what I understand, are trying to work their way through these as quick as possible," he said.

"But they've got recovery projects from all over the province, so they're working through them on a priority basis."

To come up with the $3.3 million, staff will take $2.1 million out of the general reserve, which is where staff put any budget surpluses at the end of the fiscal year.

The other $1.2 million will come from the budget for the fourth phase of City Hall renovations, which will likely not be fully finished until at least 2019.

Councillor Ryan Donn says the disaster helped him realize why the City doesn't immediately spend all its budget surpluses.

"We're not stressed about trying to find $3.3 million," he said.

"There's a stress to it - but I think that (Newcombe)'s actually given me an answer I haven't had an answer to, which is for moments such as these, we create reserves so that we're not going out to taxpayers for essentially what would be a 3% tax increase this year, just to cover the flood mitigation."

Mayor Colin Basran says that while council took some heat last year for its decision to upgrade parts of the building, the idea was to save money in the long term.

"These weren't cosmetic renovations to City Hall, just because city council wanted a nicer place to come and do their job. These were renovations so they'd have more people working in here, and prevent us from having to build a new City Hall, at tens of millions of dollars more."

Under the plan, Kelowna tax rates won't go up as a result of the unexpected expenditure.

The expectation is that the province will cover the remaining $7.4 million, through its Disaster Financial Assistance program.

Staff say its key that some repairs are made before we get into next spring.