Councillors grill Kelowna airport officials over 'unusual' budget increase | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Councillors grill Kelowna airport officials over 'unusual' budget increase

Extra snow removal for 2018 is just one budget increase that had Kelowna councillors asking questions.
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August 28, 2018 - 5:30 PM

KELOWNA - A $2.2 million mid-cycle budget request by Kelowna International Airport is uncommonly large, according to one councillor and demands further scrutiny.

“One of our biggest challenges moving forward is having a clear understanding of the lifespan of our assets," Coun. Gail Given told airport finance manager Shayne Dyrdal during her appearance before Kelowna council. “These are kind of big oopsies."

Usually the darling of council, the city-owned airport was asking for an increase of just under $2.2 million, half of it for a new chiller and cooling tower for its HVAC system and another $540,000 for improved snow removal.

Given said in a gentle rebuke there may be a need for staff to improve their estimates of asset lifespans to make sure the numbers councillors see at budget time are accurate.

Coun. Ryan Donn, for his part, was irked that the budget increase request had no details on why the sudden need for a snow removal budget increase larger than the $400,000 council just authorized for the entire city.

Coun. Luke Stack wanted to know why the bundle of requests, which amounts to about five per cent of the airport’s 2018 $40-million annual budget, couldn’t have been made during the regular budget cycle.

“It’s a big operation and I’m not trying to be critical but it’s unusual to have so many changes this late in the year,” Stack added.

Only Coun. Brad Sieben offered his full support, saying the budget request showed foresight, not the lack of planning his council colleagues were inferring.

Despite their concerns, only Coun. Donn did not support the request.

Dyrdal’s report to councillors said the airport’s old chiller and tower broke down this year and the airport is making do with a rented unit.

A pair of taxiways, Alpha and Bravo, are in need of $170,000 worth of sooner-than-anticipated repairs to deteriorating concrete in hopes of extending their lifespan by five or six years.

Staff want to install glycol drain guards worth $90,000 to further improve its glycol mitigation plan, which involves the use of two primary capture vehicles. The drain guards help prevent glycol from entering the airport’s storm sewer system.

A culvert damaged during this year’s freshet needs replacement at $155,000 while extra snow clearing will take up another $540,000.

Some of the $2.2 million will be offset by a claim for the culvert replacement to the provincial disaster assistance fund, Dyrdal writes, while the rest of the request can be met from reserves without an increase in taxation.

Kelowna International Airport is Canada’s eleventh largest airport serving almost two million passengers in 2017.

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