By ROY WOOD
Oliver council came away with a bit of a financial win this morning in a joint meeting with three representatives of the regional district.
One of the issues for discussion was the funding formula for the Visitor Information Centre run by the Oliver Tourism Association (OTA).
The current model sees the town pay half of the $56,000 annual budget out of business licence revenues. The other half is split 50/50 between the town and Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS), meaning the town pays 75 per cent of the total.
After some good-natured banter, the two sides agreed informally that starting next year the split would be 55 per cent for the town and 45 per cent for the RDOS, which is the same assessment-based formula that is used for other shared-service agreements.
The agreement, which will see the town portion drop from $42,000 to $31,000, will be formalized during budget discussions.
The regional district was represented by Area C Director Rick Knodel, chief administrative officer Bill Newell and community services manager Mark Woods.
Oliver Councillor Dave Mattes suggested the whole funding question could become academic once the planned hotel tax is implemented in the next year or two, with revenues flowing to the OTA. Some estimates put the potential income from the proposed Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) at $90,000 for Oliver alone.
Town chief administrative officer Cathy Cowan pointed out, however, that revenues from the MRDT are only allowed to be used for new initiatives and so the visitor centre would not be eligible for such funding.
There is a time-sensitivity to resolving the OTA funding process since the agreement among the parties expires at the end of this year.
The other item on the agenda concerned the relationship among the regional district, the town and the Oliver Parks and Recreation Society.
The society runs the facilities on behalf of the town and RDOS and the costs are shared between the two levels of government.
Oliver council was concerned about two issues and asked for the meeting to discuss them:
- The details of the agreement covering the provision of recreational services, over which, according to council there has been some confusion and misunderstanding; and
- Clarity around the responsibilities and authority over capital financial management of the recreational facilities, particularly the arena, the pool and the community centre.
Initially, Knodel took the position that the agreement is working just fine and “I don’t see a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. … I think it’s working very well.”
Oliver Mayor Martin Johansen, however, pointed out there is “lots of vagueness in the language” of the agreement and he would like to see more clarity.
In the end, the meeting agreed to two parks and rec action items:
- Newell will arrange a governance review workshop involving all the stakeholders – the town, RDOS, the parks and recreation society and its board – to get everyone on the same page around how decisions are made. It will also include a review of the agreement and its terms, possibly leading to clarification of some of the language.
- Mark Woods will look at the asset management needs at the facilities and at the capital planning process going out not over one year, but over five- and 10-year time spans.
The parks and rec actions will likely occur in February and March of next year, Johansen said, since the five-year parks and rec agreement still has one more year to run.