Letter: Not convinced on West Kelowna’s money management abilities

[West Kelowna's] actual reserves, as at year end 2015, are only $25,102,195, more than $17.3 million below minimum level.

To the editor:

The City of West Kelowna goes to referendum Sept. 17 and taxpayers will be asked if they are in favour of the city borrowing up to $7.7 million “ for the construction of a new city hall and related project work…”

On top of this borrowing, the city will also take seven million, one hundred thousand dollars $7.1 million from reserves to go towards this project. The city’s own bylaw states that borrowing from a reserve fund is allowed for by legislation, if a clearly defined and attainable payback plan, including payment of forgone interest, is in place.

Basically that means that the city will be borrowing a total of $14.8 million for the building of a city hall.

So, the total cost of this borrowing over 20 years will be $19.5 million—including the additional interest of $4.7 million. The city does not have the budget to pay back this amount of money.

Roads, sidewalks, sewer, water and lighting are all basic infrastructure needs. Currently, we are not meeting these community needs fully because of lack of funds available. Why would we then take on $19.5 million of debt to build a city hall?

City of West Kelowna’s reserve fund figures, as at year end 2015, make dismal reading.

The city has known of the much-needed water improvements for some time and should have been building the water capital reserves up to the minimum $15 million. Instead, we have only $4 million in that fund.

The minimum level of reserves the city holds is supposed to be $42,458,787. Their actual reserves, as at year end 2015, are only $25,102,195, more than $17.3 million below minimum level.

But voters don’t have to worry about this—as the city tells us that the cost for the new civic centre is all accounted for and there will be no additional taxes involved. (I remember being told that about the Mount Boucherie Arena project too.)

Some businesses are vociferous in their support of this proposed public-private partnership to build a city hall.

Business tax income only accounts for 15 per cent of taxes collected by the city. The other 85 per cent comes from you, my friend—the residential taxpayer.

Naturally, business is happy to encourage you to spend your money—but who benefits?

Vote No Sept. 17: Your vote counts.

Watch this video for more information:

Watchdog on Alternate West Kelowna City Hall Locations

 

Heather Yeats, West Kelowna