Letter: Is West Kelowna handling its finances prudently?

All eligible voters in the City of West Kelowna will be impacted by the results of this referendum. Vote to let the city know your view.

To the editor:

Why is the YES side and the city spending so much money trying to get you to vote yes? They sound desperate.

In their most recent effort, a flyer states that: “The City of West Kelowna have budgeted for the potential cost of the new civic centre and have been building reserves since incorporation in 2007.”

In actual fact, the City of West Kelowna only have (at year end 2015) $25,102,195 in total reserves. The minimum they are supposed to have is $42,458,787. We are more than $17.3 million short of that minimum. That minimum balance is supposed to ensure that respective balances are not depleted to the degree that they are no longer able to serve their intended purpose. Hmmm — some budgeting.

If the city takes a $7.1 million from the reserves to build their civic project, we will be down to only $18 million in reserves. $24.4 million short of minimum requirement.

What are those reserves supposed to cover? Downturns in the economy, cost of special policing for major crimes, unusual road maintenance and snow clearing, Cost of wildfire events, rehabilitation, renewal or replacement of existing capital infrastructure, water utility capital projects, building replacement or upgrade of municipal facilities, storm drainage etc

This does not seem like prudent handling of city finances.

But the city and the YES group battle on, to get the taxpayer to agree to borrowing $7.7 million and depleting our reserves by another $7.1 million. They dangle the carrot of revitalizing the downtown Westbank core. Positive growth and Progress. They say there will be no additional tax increases.

Did we learn no lessons from the States following the recession? Americans were targeted to spend, spend, and spend. Encouraged to buy what they wanted and to get further into debt. When the bubble burst, homes were lost and many suffered extreme hardship and are still trying to recover.

In Canada today 53 per cent of Canadians say that they would suffer hardship if their paycheques were delayed by one week. Many live from paycheque to paycheque and do not have any reserves to fall back on.

I believe that our city does not have enough reserves to fall back on.

We, the taxpayers, are facing massive increases in our water bills (estimated to be three times current rates) and Fortis is defending its decision to increase natural gas rates by 80 per cent (CBC Sept. 13). Do you have enough in reserve to cover these extras?

Royal LePage Place was not going to cost us any additional tax either. I, for one, will be voting no to this—in my opinion—irresponsible borrowing and depletion of our reserve fund.

Please get out and vote no. All eligible voters who pay taxes to the City of West Kelowna will be impacted by the results of this referendum. Vote to let the city know your view. Every single vote counts.

Barry Yeats, West Kelowna