Regional district's OK Falls office doesn't serve function it's being funded for - InfoNews

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Regional district's OK Falls office doesn't serve function it's being funded for

Regional District of Okanagan SImilkameen board of directors will be asked to decide what to do about office space located at 5350 9 Ave. in Okanagan Falls currently being funded under an economic development initiative, a function it no longer serves.
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December 18, 2018 - 7:30 AM

PENTICTON - What to do with 1,200 square feet of office space in Okanagan Falls? The regional district board will ponder that question at this week’s director’s meeting.

Area “D” taxpayers are currently spending $169,000 annually, part of which is being paid to lease two units at 5350 9 Ave. in Okanagan Falls for what Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen chief administrative officer Bill Newell calls “a seemingly inactive program.”

Newell is putting the matter before the board at the Thursday, Dec. 20 meeting to determine what should be done about extending the lease.

According to the report, Area “D” director Ron Obirek has expressed interest in keeping the office open, but the problem is it is currently being funded under a bylaw established for economic development, an initiative it no longer serves.

The lease is now under a month-to-month renewal action, following the initiation of a three-month quit clause earlier in the fall. The offices have been staffed by a rural projects coordinator, and administrative assistant and recreation staff, but is being charged out as an economic development initiative.

The staff report presents a number of options, including budgeting for a rejuvenated economic development program, funding the office through an existing program like parks and recreation, establishing a completely new service with a more general program such as community services, renewing the lease as is, or letting it lapse.

In the final analysis, Newell suggests it's “all about money” as each different service will potentially have a different group of taxpayers.

The bottom line is, however, the current use doesn’t meet the stated purpose of the economic service bylaw.

Newell suggests continuing to charge expenses under that banner “doesn’t seem to align with legislation.”

It will be up to the board on Thursday to decide what purpose, if any, the office now has and where to apply the costs. After that, they’ll have to enter into a lease for a term of their choosing.


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