Council reviews 2020 Operating Budget and 5 Year Capital/Project Plan
Town Council and senior staff met for several hours on January 29, 2020 to review the 2020 Operating Budget and 5 Year Capital/Project Plan. Council had previously met on December 11, 2019 and reviewed and approved the 2020-2024 water and sewer operating and capital budgets and approved user rates for those services for 2020. The approved water rates for 2020 see residential water fees in Town increase by 2% and in Rural Water Districts 8 and 9 by 1.71%. Water rates for other uses/users were increased by the same percentage amounts. For 2020 sewer user fees are increased by 3.99%. For in Town single family homes these increases amount to $7.19 for water and $10.22 for sewer per year.
After reviewing and deliberating the 2020 Operating Budget and 5 Year Capital / Project Plan, Town Council approved a draft operating budget and 5 year capital project plan that includes a municipal tax increase of 2.98%. The next step in the budget process is for Council to provide the opportunity for public input / comment respecting the draft financial plan. A meeting will be scheduled for Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Town Hall for Council to receive that feedback. Notice of the meeting will be posted on the Town website and advertised in the Osoyoos Times. Questions and feedback respecting the financial plan can be given in person at the meeting or by written submission.
Taken together, on the average single family home with an assessed value of $445,811, the combined property tax and utility rate increases result in a total increase in amounts paid to the Town of $88.46 per year ($7.37/month). A table following this media release sets out the comparative total Town charges on the average single family home between 2019 and 2020.
A large part of Council deliberations over the financial plan concerned the budget for the Osoyoos Fire Department. Administration brought forward a budget package that would move forward the Fire Department in a very tangible way to address the issues and recommendations made in the January 2019 Fire Department Master Plan.
The draft 2020 operating budget includes an allowance for wage and benefits increases for hourly and salaried Town employees, a 2% increase to the RCMP budget, a $6.70 per year increase in solid waste and recycling fees, and increased budgets for a variety of municipal services including roads and parks maintenance.
The draft 2020 capital budget includes amounts for community planning (OCP update and Zoning bylaw update), land and parkland acquisition, playgrounds, outdoor fitness and community garden improvements, trails, road and sidewalk improvements, accessibility upgrades, improvements at the Sonora Centre, Arts Centre and Desert Park, improvements and expansion of the Childcare Centre, a Town Hall space needs assessment and pre-design study, downtown enhancements, improvements at the sanitary landfill (new scale, scale house, litter fencing), occupational health and safety improvements and re-investment and renewal of Operational Services yard, fleet (e.g. new beach cleaner, street sweeper, aerial lift (bucket) truck, medium duty trucks, parks mower) and operating equipment (survey equipment, tools and storage) and preparation of a universal water metering implementation plan.
The January 29, 2020 agenda and complete budget package are available on the City's website under the ‘Council’ tab at ‘Agendas, Minutes & Videos.’