The City of Penticton is proposing a 3.6 per cent tax increase for residents in 2019.
According to Jim Bauer, the city’s chief financial officer, city council will be received a primer about the proposed budget and accompanying city department financial plans at the Feb. 19 regular council meeting.
“The 3.6 per cent increase includes two per cent, which is really to address inflation pressures that that city is facing, followed by 1.6 per cent to deal with emerging priorities,” said Bauer.
If approved as is, the budget would allocate funding under the city’s general fund account for projects such as developing a new city website, developing the Skaha Park Master Plan and employing one new RCMP officer at the city’s detachment.
“The tax rate increase last year was 3.44 per cent, so this is a little bit above that,” said Bauer. “The development of new properties that coming online increased by about $700,000 this year, which is higher than what we’ve seen in the past, so that helped to defray the rate increase.
“There is actually a lot that we’ve been able to get into this budget for 3.6 per cent.”
The project with the highest price tag for the city’s general fund account would be the installing of strategic lighting and pedestrian crossing lighting for $200,000. Bauer noted that public safety was a key priority brought forward during the election season and mandated by the new city council.
“Our number one area of focus was public safety and security. So we’re proposing an increase to bylaw presence, so two community safety officers, and we’re also proposing to create a downtown bylaw/RCMP office on Nanaimo Square in the Blendz building,” said Bauer.
The proposed budget would also include an increase in the city’s business tax multiplier (BTM), which is currently at one of the lowest rates in the province. Penticton’s current multiplier is 1.73 and the provincial average is 2.73.
“The BTM average in the Okanagan Valley is sitting at 2.28 and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business recommends a multiplier of no more than two,” said Bauer.
If the BTM increase is approved, Bauer said it will “shift more of the tax burden to businesses, off of residents”, thus establishing “a little bit more of an equitable distribution.” The change would mean the average resident would pay an extra $9.75 to $13.16 per month while the average business would pay an extra $54.50 to $87.16 per month.
The City of Penticton’s budget deliberations begin on Feb. 26, following public consultations regarding the proposed budget and city department business plans on Feb. 20 and 21.
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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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