Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna moves $2.5M in budget surplus to RCMP for ‘anticipated unionization’

The city allocated $8.1M in surplus funds to various reserve accounts on Monday

Kelowna has allocated its $8.1-million 2019 budget surplus to several different reserves — including $2.5 million to the RCMP.

Sherry Little, the city’s corporate finance manager, told Kelowna City Council on Monday, July 27, that the funds would assist with the RCMP’s significant revenue losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s “anticipated unionization.”

The RCMP’s road to the bargaining table began in 2015 when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a law that specifically barred Mounties from unionizing. In July 2019, RCMP members voted to designate the National Police Federation (NPF) as their national bargaining actor.

Currently, the NPF is negotiating with the federal Treasury Board, which is expected to culminate in a collective agreement for RCMP members below the rank of Inspector. While specific items for collective bargaining have not been released, pay, resource levels and benefits have been identified by RCMP members as high priorities.

The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) suggested municipal governments budget for an anticipated increase in costs.

“Once the federal Treasury Board and NPF finalize a collective agreement, local governments will be responsible for paying the incremental policing costs associated with unionization,” the UBCM stated in a June 2020 release.

While it was initially anticipated that the agreement would be reached sometime in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on contract negotiations is currently unknown.

A total of 7.6 million of the city’s 2019 budget surplus was allocated to specific reserve accounts, while the remaining funds were put into the city’s accumulated surplus — part of the city’s general funding reserve. The money was allocated to the following accounts:

  • RCMP $2,500,000
  • Community Safety $ 400,000
  • Slope Stability $550,000
  • Climate Action $350,000
  • Sidewalk Network $200,000
  • Land Sales $700,000
  • Major Systems $400,000
  • Public/Private/Partnership $2,500,000
  • Accumulated Surplus $513,748

The city also noted surpluses in its self-funded sectors.

The wastewater and water funds had $5.8- and $2.4-million surpluses respectively, which will be used towards infrastructure and the mitigation of rate fluctuation.

The airport came in at a $15.2-million surplus for 2019, providing flexibility in both “operating and capital improvements.”

READ MORE: West Kelowna church expansion a no-go

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