Guest Editorial: City of Kelowna explains annual report

Wondering about staffing decisions? Hear straight from the City of Kelowna

Kelowna City Hall

By Tom Wilson

The City of Kelowna’s Annual Report probably didn’t make the best-seller list (it’s free, after all), it is a great publication to read about what was accomplished in 2016 and what the city has planned for the year ahead.

Last year, more than 1,340 people looked at this easy-to-read online publication available at kelowna.ca. This year’s edition is now available and features a number of brief video interviews with members of the community who talk about how they and their organizations connect with the community and with the City of Kelowna.

People with a finance background might find the financial section interesting, since it accounts for all the revenue and spending decisions in 2016.

Among all those numbers, here are a couple of important figures: 29.7 per cent and 28 per cent.

The first number reflects the percentage of operating expenditures in 2016 devoted to staff, while the second number is the amount of operating expenditures paid to contractors. These numbers are important because they reflect how the City of Kelowna strives for a balance between staff and contracted services to keep the tax demand lower.

For example, it’s more economical to contract out some services such as garbage collection or building construction than it is to pay wages and benefits for permanent full-time City staff to do those jobs.

Kelowna Council and administration are always focused on offering a fair tax rate for the services provided. Kelowna is in the bottom five lowest tax rates for cities in B.C. and 84 per cent of residents polled in 2015 said they receive good value for their tax dollar. And 55 per cent of city revenues come from sources other than taxation.

The city’s staff costs are watched closely—wage increments have averaged between one and two per cent for the past five years and five-year labour contracts have meant cost certainty and labour stability.

Meanwhile, Kelowna has been one of the fastest growing cities in Canada for the past five years. Our city attracted more than 10,000 new residents between 2011 and 2016—that’s a growth rate of nearly nine per cent.

Despite being the fastest growing region in Canada since 2013—which drives the need for more services, more roads, sidewalks, facilities—staffing levels have increased moderately.

Some of the new positions added in recent years address community priorities for social development, protective services and energy efficiency. Programs to implement energy saving will save taxpayers millions of dollars in the years ahead, while the Social Development Manager will establish a framework to more effectively address mental health and addiction issues in our city.

The city provides hundreds of services that require a wide variety of degrees and specialized qualifications. And it competes with the public and private sector to get employees who are qualified to fill these positions.

Hiring qualified people who have a heart for public service is an approach that strives to provide citizens with the best service and value possible for their money.

The Ipsos Research database of municipal norms in Canada found Kelowna residents are more likely than those living elsewhere to say they receive good value for taxes—84 per cent in Kelowna versus the national average of 77 per cent.

In fact, the majority of residents consistently tell the City of Kelowna they would rather pay a little more in taxes to maintain or expand services. In 2015, Ipsos found 56 per cent of residents had this preference, compared to the national average of 47 per cent who held this same opinion.

Some taxation is required to maintain a well run city that meets citizen demands. Enhanced public safety, social development, more support for entertainment and culture and better access to Okanagan Lake from waterfront and linear parks are some of the citizen-driven initiatives being funded.

Tom Wilson is a communications manager with the city of Kelowna

Just Posted

Kelowna Rocket invited to Hockey Canada National Under-17 Development Camp

The 16-year-old was selected by the Rockets 18th overall at the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft

Kelowna RCMP serve up slices and support for Special Olympics B.C.

Last years inaugural campaign raised more than $12,000

Car window smashed with a bike in Kelowna

A staffer working in the area on the incident says vandalism is a reoccurring problem

Kelowna Mayor’s walking tour of Rutland cancelled

Growing issues surrounding supportive housing leads to rescheduled meeting with concerned resident

Kelowna RCMP net traffickers in undercover op

The RCMP reported dozens of arrests in the investigation

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

UPDATED: Highway 97 closed between Summerland and Penticton

Accident closes highway in both directions; reopening expected at 10 p.m.

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Vernon artist featured at Kelowna exhibit

Mariel Belanger one of three female indigenous artists

Hergott: Moral obligations and your will

Lawyer Paul Hergott discusses wills and moral obligation

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Rain delays repair of Shuswap road damaged in mudslide

Seymour Arm forest service road not expected to reopen until early next week

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Alleged Okanagan shoplifter tracked down by RCMP

Vernon retail store’s loss prevention officer’s description of suspect helps lead to arrest

Most Read