coffee with a cop

Penticton RCMP are encouraging the public throughout the South Okanagan-Similkameen to host a police officer for a public information session.

Penticton RCMP officers are expected to claim $422,000 in overtime this year, city councillors heard Tuesday at the outset of 2020 budget deliberations.

“That’s nearly the cost of three officers,” observed Mayor John Vassilaki, who asked for a detailed summary of overtime costs to be delivered to council later in the week.

This year’s overtime total is up sharply from $312,000 in 2018.

Acting detachment commander Staff Sgt. Kirsten Marshall told council 23% of overtime was attributed to investigations, 21% to downtown patrols and 20% to back-filling shifts.

Council nonetheless gave provisional approval to the RCMP’s 2020 budget, which will rise 3.8% to $9.76 million. The increase includes $170,000 for an additional police officer, raising the detachment’s complement to 48, and $76,000 for a new civilian employee to help extract data from electronic devices connected to crime.

Bylaw services

Council approved a 21.9% increase to the bylaw services budget, lifting it to $1 million.

Much of the increase is attributed to pay for the two new bylaw officers hired in 2019.

Vassilaki asked for more information to be presented later in the week regarding the potential cost to keep two bylaw officers on duty until 10 p.m.

The department has also budgeted $10,000 to review the residential parking permit program in use in parts of the downtown and hospital area.

SOEC complex

Coun. Katie Robinson wasn’t impressed to learn there are just six conventions booked for next year at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.

“When the best we can do is attract only six conventions, I find that bitterly disappointing,” said Robinson.

In response, general manager Dean Clarke estimated there are actually 160 to 170 events planned for the facility, such as meetings and trade shows.

Clarke also suggested the $393,000 operating loss budgeted for the facility in 2020, up about $85,000 from the 2019 forecast, isn’t a fair way to assess the building’s financial health because it’s more accurately measured against its economic impact, which is in the range of $11 million.

Meanwhile, the South Okanagan Events Centre is budgeted for a $1.01 million loss in 2020, down from the $1.19 million forecast for this year.

Bottom line

After the first day of budget deliberations, local taxpayers were still facing a 2.9% hike for 2020. That would cost the owner of an average $500,000 home an extra $72.96 per year, and the owner of an average business property worth $1.18 million an extra $870.36 per year.