The new Kelowna city councillors received their baptism under a little fire last week as they worked through their first budget deliberations.
From first accounts, they seem to have weathered the storm fairly well, however, the current calm is not something they should get too used to.
The real fire will heat up in the next few months as the final budget is completed and the results of their decisions become a reality and/or understood by the public.
Council members spent hours wading through the recommendations after the previous council had ordered staff to return with an outline for having no tax increase.
At the end of their initial kick at the can, today’s council is poised for a 0.11 per cent increase.
Impressive yes, but realistic? Often, achieving such a small tax increase in one year generally means a hefty per cent increase needed in the future to make up for short-term service cuts.
I did not support the concept of a zero tax when the previous council I was part of met for pre-budget planning prior to the election.
I had suggested a 1.5 per cent increase was more realistic, as even then cuts to services would be hefty.
While I applaud the new council for their efforts to this part, I await the full results of the budget decisions, including a chance to see just exactly what cuts took place where, and at what price.
Of course, the real test for new council members will be next year when they have to do two things: Give staff their own advance marching orders on budget goals, and face the results of the decisions made this month, especially some brash cuts to our transit system.
Much more concerning to me at present regarding council news this past week was the demise of a few committees .
On Monday, council carried through with a preliminary proposal to eliminate Advisory Planning Commission, the Housing Committee and the Women’s and Community Committee.
I sat on the Women’s and Community Committee and can testify to the fact that it served a very valuable and needed role to both council and the city.
I have yet to hear the logic behind the demise of that committee. It had a broad mandate related to making Kelowna a safer, healthier and more equitable community particularly encouraging women’s viewpoints, safety, childcare and health and well-being.
It will be a sad loss if it remains in the council garbage can.
Hopefully the weather will be warmer by next weekend so that residents are motivated enough to take in the second annual John Howard-Bedford Place fundraising and awareness event.
Saturday, Jan. 28, is the date for the Rock the House Curling and social event set for the Kelowna Curling Club. This is a fun-filled event for veteran and rookie curlers alike.
The afternoon/early evening event will include a fundraiser silent auction and a dinner in addition to the curling fun. I am honoured to be the event’s MC.
For further info contact Terese Desrosiers, the Bedford Place manager, at 250-717-0702.
And shortly after that, on Thursday, Feb. 2, the Sean Connor fundraiser concert takes place at the Kelowna Community Theatre.
The Deb Stone Band will open the evening at 7 p.m. followed by other groups including Almost A Few, Pets Late Band, harmonica master Sherman Doucette, Trishannah Gentles and Band, Nuka, and Johnny VS Johnny.
Should be a lot of fun. Connor is a highly respected Capital News photographer who has recently returned from two months of specialized proton radiation treatment in California for a rare form of brain cancer.
There will be a large collection of fine photographic art plus other items that will make up a silent auction. Sean and Sandra Connor will be on hand for the evening, so please come out to give them a boost.
If you wish to donate an item for the silent auction then please contact Heather McCullough at 250-808-0131 or my pal Kim Calloway at 250-763-6397.