Sunday, September 29, 2013

Amalgamation - dialogue with politicians - and a response

Mr Moore has a telephone and he himself could approach those politicians if he wanted to talk to them. I, personally, have never refused to talk to any citizen who called me for a discussion. Mr Moore, my phone number is 250 545-8772. You may call me and we can talk.

However, it would have been better to discuss the petition plan prior to launching the petition so the organizers could have garnered some information to relay to potential petitioners. It is obvious from some of the comments that some respondents don't know very much of the history of the area (i.e. Petitioner  957.... Comments: “it should have never happened to begin with!"). 

They could have learned that the former Mayor of Vernon has had a major push to do exactly what this petition is trying to do. They could have also explained to would be petitioners what potential negative consequences amalgamation could have on all jurisdictions, including on the taxpayers of Vernon. Not long ago Kelowna and Westbank had a major study to determine if Westbank should join Kelowna or form their own municipality. The decision speaks for itself: West Kelowna is a separate municipality.

 As an elected Councillor I would strive for the best deal for the taxpayers who elected me. Amalgamation was never part of my election platform. I don't think I would have been elected if it were. Nevertheless, if a large number of Coldstream taxpayers demanded an amalgamation review and the majority of Council would favour it, by all means, let’s have a review. So far I have not encountered such demand.

Below I present some news clips from the Morning Star relating to the 2008 amalgamation debates. That is some of the information an organization wishing to initiate an amalgamation petition should provide to the “Citizens of Greater Vernon” so they could make a more informed decision before they put their name to an amalgamation petition.

Gyula Kiss





Anonymous said...

Thankyou, Gyula for doing this.

Amalgamation isn't for me either.

Leave things as they are.

Anonymous said...

In addition to many petitioners being uninformed on the history of the area associations, there seems to be an ignorance on how our local government services are financed, and an unsupported implication that Vernon carries everyone else. Some comments reflect a naive view that the amalgamation will bring better services at a cheaper and quicker pace. A review of the literature on the subject would suggest a greater failure than success in most Canadian experiences. I say leave well enough alone, my taxes in Coldstream are lower than Vernon's and Kelowna's, I don't want to pay for a professional firefighting force, and I like the quasi-rural nature of the area.

Anonymous said...

And your comment is not ignorant either. Do you truly believe that Coldstream is paying its fair share, in terms of Tourism or Economic Development or any of the other nifty services the City of Vernon provides, from which your jurisdiction inevitably benefits?

About that "my taxes are lower in Coldstream" concept... must have forgotten to add in the surcharges that Coldstream residents pay for sewer - that alone adds $50+ to your so-called "lower taxes", which are lower than Vernon's by what, perhaps as much as $100 per year? Not really, because the average property value is also higher in Coldstream, which means that the average actual dollar difference in property taxes, as compared to the average Vernon property, may in fact be non-existent.

Are you satisfied to thwart our region's progress by saving $50 a year? You bet the minute Coldstream joins Vernon, we are paving all your farmland. Yeah right. Talk about fear-mongering. Vernon also has areas that are quasi-rural.

I am glad to be part of a City that offers progressive services as the Spring Chipping Program, funded by our recycling fees. How does Coldstream support regional recycling? Or perhaps residents enjoy driving their gas guzzlers to the dump, or to a recycling drop-off in ... gasp... Vernon?

Are the people of Spallumcheen rebelling against their residential tax rate, by far - yes, by far - the HIGHEST in our region? Yep, all those roads. I bet they'd give anything to join Vernon, if only to connect to Greater Vernon Water to finally develop an industrial park as well as homes in the Southeast sector.

Too bad the City of Vernon didn't snap up those Coquihalla tollbooths...

Coldstreamer said...

Are you sure about Spallumcheen wanting to join Vernon? As for service levels in Coldstream: residents get the service for which they wish to pay. You seem to be envious of Coldstream, I wonder why?

Anonymous said...

As a member of the Lavington Liberation Party, I thank you for my morning giggle.

Thank you also for pointing out that joining the City could actually give Coldstream residents access to more services for less.

Don't believe me? Let me state this another way: if Coldstream delivered the same service levels as Vernon currently does to its residents, Coldstream residents would be paying far more in taxes right now.

The City of Vernon can do more with less due to economies of scale, including beach grooming, and the district municipality of Coldstream simply can't.

Interestingly, governance in Coldstream is also more expensive per capita: Coldstream's Council costs about 3X as much as Vernon Council, extracting $10 from each resident per year versus only $3 in Vernon/Area B/Area C.

Coldstreamer said...

Lavington Liberation Party? That's a new one. However, you are wrong on the point that Vernon could provide you with more services with less. All services cost money. Your taxes are lower because we have less services. If Coldstream joined Vernon you would have no choice about service levels and TAX levels.

Maria Besso said...

I would like to try and inform some of the comments with facts.

The total yearly remuneration for Coldstream Council ( six councillors plus a mayor) was $120,794 in 2012, and our total population is approx. 10,315 people. That is approx. $11.70 per person per year.

The total yearly remuneration for Vernon Council ( six councillors plus the mayor) was $198,109 in 2012, and the total population of Vernon was approx. 38,150 people . That is approx. $5.20 per person per year.

Yes on a per capita basis it costs the 10 thousand people in Coldstream more for their Council than it costs the 38 thousand people in Vernon.

But I would still venture to say that both sets of taxpayers are getting very good value out of their politicians.

If you're eyeing the savings of potentially $120,000 as the justification for amalgamation, then perhaps you would think again if you took a closer look at some other costs to operate a municipality or city.

The City of Vernon (COV) collects $26.45 million dollars from property taxation, that is $625 per capita ( according to Vernon's 2012 Annual Report).

On the other hand the District of Coldstream ( DOC) collects $4.29 million from property taxation, that is $445 per capita ( Coldstream's 2012 Annual report pg 59).

The COV has 11,836 hectares ( 8,378 taxable hectares) and 283 kms of roads, while the DOC has 7,645 hectares and 123 kms of paved roads.

The COV has a larger urban core and justifiably needs more employees and services, the COV has 250 net full time equivalent (FTE) employees.

The DOC has a small urbanized area and a large rural area that is mostly agricultural in nature, 57% of the land in Coldstream is in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), and does not require or pay for the same level of services that are available in urban areas. The DOC has 30 net FTE employees.

The DOC pays its fair share of all shared services with the COV through the services provided at the Regional District of the North Okangan. The residents of Coldstream pay $2.35 million (on top of their residential taxes to (RDNO). The citizens of Vernon pay $9.334 million to the RDNO.

The COV pays 10,000 million for policing costs, the DOC pays $644,000.

The COV pays 4.9 million for their fire dept, the DOC pays less than 1 million.

If the citizens of Coldstream wish to amalgamate with Vernon then it should be an informed decision, not one based on vitriol and emotion.

Maria Besso

Anonymous said...

Frankly I feel we have a pretty good efficiently run municipality. Great employees, fire departments and public works dept. Very efficient snow ploughing. If people want sidewalks, lots of street lights, & other unnamed services, etc. then why did they move here? Could it have been for the quality of life here? They can always sell up and move back into the COV limits couldn't they?

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that the article in today's morning star states that the latest round of parks restructuring which was started by Coldstream ended up costing this area almost half a million dollars a year more according to the head of the works yard in Vernon. Way to go Coldstream no wonder KPMG is saying amalgamation would save money! A HALF A MILLION DOLLARS every year! What were local politicians thinking ? ......they weren't!

Anonymous said...

The parks restructuring won't be costing more, because the deal has not been finalized, we are still negotiating. Sounds like anonymous would like to find a reason to justify amalgamation. The whole reason that Coldstream and Electoral Areas B&C initiated this Parks, Recreation & Culture 'Service Review' was because the flow through of costs from the present method of service delivery was escalating out of control, and there was no accountability to the taxpayers. Now we finally know the numbers, we can deal with it, everyone should be thanking Coldstream (including Vernon taxpayers) because in the end there will be a better run service with more fiscal transparency, accountability, and responsiveness to the taxpayers in all jurisdictions. As it turns out Vernon too had frustrations with the management of their parks. This cordial resolution of a complex problem (when, and if, it finally comes about) will be good for everyone, including Coldstream taxpayers.

Maria Besso

Coldstream Ratepayers News! All Coldstream residents are ratepayers!

The opinions expressed by "Coldstreamer" are strictly his own and do not represent the opinions of Coldstream Council!

Because I value your thoughtful opinions, I encourage you to add a comment to this discussion. Don't be offended if I edit your comments for clarity or to keep out questionable matters, however, and I may even delete off-topic comments.

Gyula Kiss;


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About Me

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I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.