December 11, 2014 - 2:31 PM
PENTICTON - Penticton’s council faced another marathon budget session Wednesday, tackling the 2015 operating budget.
Council approved in principle some hefty increases to the economic development and tourism budgets, as they focus on building the local economy.
Aiming at the sport tourism market, council ok'd a $112,000 increase in staffing costs over 2014 to support a full time sport tourism position. The extra funding will also support an intern position.
Another increase of $107,000 over the 2014 budget was also proposed for economic development projects.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit noted the substantial increases in the economic development and tourism budgets.
Calling them “Strategic investments into building a strong economy, which will lead to strong community,” he said he was happy to see those initiatives moving forward.
Other big ticket items include $175,000 for an air service partnership that will promote Penticton Regional Airport’s air service connections.
In addition to promoting air travel in and out of PRH, council approved $125,000 to provide financial support to the Go Media convention, to take place in the city September 27 to October 1.
“This is a big opportunity for Penticton,” said Communications Officer Simone Blais. “There is a lot of competition amongst cities for this event.”
The convention connects top Canadian and international travel media and influencers with provincial, territorial, and regional Canadian tourist organizations, major hotel properties, attractions and transportation companies.
“We really haven’t had a lot of changes to the budget as presented," Jakubeit said, following the session. He added the city was at a very good starting point this year with the deficit at $315,000 compared to the recent past, when it was as high as $1.7 million.
“Years past we had to be a lot more aggressive when it came to what programs got changed or cut, today we don’t have to be quite as aggressive, and staff has done a good job of vetting the budget so it came to us as a $315,000 deficit,” he said.
Council also discussed a number of transit initiatives before agreeing to a $5,000 increase to the proposed budget for 2015.
Following the session, Mayor Jakubeit said he was happy with the progress being made on the budget so far. Council’s next budget discussion is Tuesday, December 16, starting at 8:30 a.m. in council chambers.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014