Five new staff positions are included in the 2020 budget that now has preliminary approval from the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen.
The new jobs are solid waste manager, building inspector, asset management and procurement co-ordinator, health and safety co-ordinator, and wastewater treatment operator.
RDOS board chairwoman Karla Kozakevich said the asset management position will help keep on top of infrastructure requirements and access funding from higher levels of government.
“Many of the grants we get, (the projects) need to be shovel-ready,” explained Kozakevich.
As for the health and safety job, she said that function is currently handled by the two-person RDOS human resources department in addition to other duties.
“We have over 100 employees, and then we have probably 150 with the rural fire departments,” noted Kozakevich.
Besides the full-time jobs, the RDOS is also looking to add the full-time equivalent of 1.4 more jobs, by moving the communications co-ordinator position from half- to full-time, hiring a 0.7 FTE landfill attendant and adding 0.2 FTE to economic development.
Combined with other increases, the new jobs would lift the total RDOS tax requisition for 2020 by 5.4% to $20.1 million.
Major capital expenditures include a $1.5-million upgrade of the Campbell Mountain Landfill to add a second scale and redo the entrance to reduce traffic congestion, and $150,000 for a regional parks master plan.
The budget also includes $40,000 worth of grants-in-aid, including $30,000 for the Community Foundation of South Okanagan Similkameen and $5,000 for a new children’s festival in Penticton.
Kozakevich represents Area E (Naramata), which is budgeted for a $310,000 improvement to Manitou Park that would see new washrooms and septic system, plus an accessibility path built from the parking lot to the beach.
Another $50,000 is budgeted for a liquid waste management plan that she believes could be vital to development of the Naramata Centre and B.C. Tree Fruits packinghouse lands, which at present are serviced by septic systems.
“Without sewage, it does restrict what (developers) can do. It’s time for us to do an updated plan and see what they recommend,” said Kozakevich.
The board gave first reading to the budget Jan. 9. Staff and elected officials will now present the plan to residents and members municipalities for feedback, before seeking final approval in March.