Community service grants, funding for civic centre improvements and iPads for councillors are among early budget items pre-approved by Sicamous council.
While the District of Sicamous’ 2012 budget remains a work in progress, a number of budget items were required to come before council last week so that related works and programs could be started as soon as possible.
Regarding grants, the district will be providing community service groups with every cent they asked for. This includes two requests of $15,000, one from the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Grooming Society, and the other from the Sicamous and District Museum and Historical Society (though the society is still required to clarify what the grant money will be used for).
Total grant dollars being doled out in 2012 amount to $65,788, almost $10,000 more than budgeted through the district’s formula for grant funding. Council is currently looking at a tax increase of around 1.25 per cent for 2012, which will include the additional grant funding.
The district will get cracking on the remaining works this year at the civic centre. This requires $50,300 for landscaping, to be done by municipal staff, and $421,000 in offsite works including sidewalk, curb and gutter, lighting, some sewer work, etc. Two new signs will also be going up for the building on Finlayson and Main Street, highlighting the services offered within, including the Sicamous branch of the Okanagan Regional Library and the new visitor centre.
Council also approved $10,000 for additional work inside the civic centre. District interim administrator Doug Ruttan explained this will go towards a reconfiguration that will create two separate counters on the second floor, one for finance and one for development services, which the public would be able to access directly.
To help catch up with administrative work, funds have been set aside for contracted services – $25,000 for 2012 and $5,000 for 2013. Another $48,830 is being budgeted for the interim administrator position, and for hiring a new, full-time administrator.
The Sicamous Chamber of Commerce will be receiving $27,000 for the operation of the visitor centre, and another $20,000 for the provision of an events co-ordinator. Ruttan calls the latter an experiment to see if it can generate some economic activity in the community.
“We’ve taken the position that we have to do things differently to try and create some economic activity in the community,” said Ruttan. “Hopefully this will be part and parcel to that.”
An additional $6,100 has been added to the district’s contract for cemetery maintenance. And $15,000 is going towards some technological upgrades, including iPads for the mayor and councillors to use, and for a big-screen television. The TV, said Ruttan, will go in council chambers so the public can follow with council’s agenda package and view presentations as council sees them.
The iPads, among other things, can be used by council to view their agendas, thus cutting back on paper costs.
“This building goes through a lot of paper and we just feel that it’s a better way to connect,” says Mayor Darrell Trouton. “The information gets to you faster and cleaner and it’s the way of the future, so we should be getting onboard like most communities are.”