Kelowna looking at 3.59 per cent tax increase

Provisional city budget, to be deliberated on by council next week, includes the proposed increase

Kelowna’s 2018 provisional budget will go to city council Dec. 14.—Image: Capital News file

Kelowna city council will be looking at a possible 3.59 per cent tax increase when it sits down to deliberate on its 2018 municipal budget next week.

Council will receive a staff presentation of the 2018 financial plan at its regular meeting Dec. 11 meeting, and will hold its annual budget deliberations during an all-day session Dec. 14.

The provisional financial plan includes the proposed 3.59 per cent tax increase based on the cost of maintaining existing services and adding new resources for next year. The final tax increase won’t be known until April when the budget must be finalized and all budget requests have been reviewed by council.

According to city manager Ron Mattiussi, leading up to the provisional budget, key themes emerged during his review of community needs and financial resources:

• Kelowna is rapidly growing and the city must respond to the changing needs in the community.

• The city needs to renew and maintain operations, with less emphasis this year on new services or amenities.

• Investments in the city’s support services are needed to maintain service level expectations that are growing with the increasing population.

Every provisional budget contains ongoing impact costs that were approved in previous budgets. Two per cent of the proposed increase for 2018 accounts for past commitments, said Mattiussi. That includes:

• Union and contractor wage increases from previously approved multi-year contracts

• Ongoing operating costs associated with the new Police Services building

• Fire Services training and reserve contributions for future infrastructure replacement

• Activating phase 2 of the customer care project that will see upgrades to the utility billing system in 2018

Safety remains at the forefront of funding priorities, said the city manager in his budget report that will go to council Monday. The budget will be Mattiussi’s last. He has announced he will retire in the new year after 22 years with the city, the last 13 as city manager.

He says the proposed addition of 16 front-line emergency personnel (12 career firefighters and four RCMP members) for will cost $1.2 million. Another $1.16 million in capital requests is included for the temporary conversion of the Glenmore fire hall to house full-time firefighters and the addition of a fire engine with equipment.

This year’s budget also reflects investments in multi-use corridors to improve and extend “balanced, active” transportation networks. Of the $16.6 million in transportation capital requests, less than a quarter will come from taxes.

The City of Kelowna has multiple revenue sources, says the report. Taxation represents 37 per cent of the city’s revenues. Fees and charges (such as the Airport Improvement Fee at YLW and the water utility fees), grants and reserves are other forms of revenue sources.

For more information about the city’s budget process, visit kelowna.ca/budget.

On Dec. 14, to follow the budget deliberations live on Twitter, follow the hashtag #KelownaBudget. The deliberation will also be broadcast live on the internet.

Budget facts

• Kelowna’s net operating budget: $134 million

• Proposed tax rate: 3.59 per cent (previous commitments account for 2 per cent)

• Capital investment (general fund, not including Airport and Utilities): $46.8 million with $12.2 million funded from taxation, of which 36 per cent is to renew existing infrastructure, 36 per cent is due to growth and 28 per cent for new infrastructure.

• Operating requests: $9.3million, with $7 million funded from taxation, of which: 52 per cent is to maintain services, 28 per cent is due to growth and 20 per cent is for new services.

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