Lake Country residents could be facing a 3.5 per cent hike in their property taxes next year as district councillors are set to begin budget deliberations next week.
A 2017 draft financial plan that will be presented to council on Tuesday is proposing a 3.5 per cent tax increase, 1.5 per cent of which will be directed to the Transportation for Tomorrow plan to invest in Lake Country’s road infrastructure.
The 1.5 per cent increase will add $144,468 to the Transportation for Tomorrow reserve while the remaining two per cent of the increase is being proposed based on staff’s review of previous operating and capital budgets and current levels of reserves. The increase will add $223,181 in general taxes for 2017.
Based on last year’s average home price of $557,400, the average house would pay approximately $66 in additional tax with the 3.5 per cent increase.
Among the challenges district staff point to in preparing the budget are several areas where costs have increased including:
•A contractual wage increase of 1.5 per cent
•Increase in the RCMP contract of 1.7 per cent or $24,755
•Increases in natural gas charges of 12.5 per cent
Another area that will increase the cost to Lake Country in the coming years is the anticipated end to a fire services agreement with the City of Kelowna in 2020. Staff are proposing to begin a transition period in 2017 to smooth the elimination of the revenue from Kelowna by increasing the transfers to reserve from 2017 until 2019.
With Lake Country continuing to grow, staffing levels at the District of Lake Country will also grow with the district anticipating hiring several new employees after March of 2017, adding over $315,000 to the payroll.
Among the new positions that will need to be filled are a manager of strategic and support services ($119,000 salary), a protective services maintenance operator ($77,454), a community services planning technician ($67,772), a park technician ($86,450) as well as a parks and facilities operator ($69,472).
The review of the Financial Plan by Council in a public meeting will begin with an overview presentation of the budget and challenges in building the 2017 – 2021 Financial Plan on Tuesday while a detailed review of the plan will occur on December 13, 2016. There will be opportunities for public input during both those meetings. It is expected that the adoption of the 2017 – 2021 Financial Plan will be complete in February 2017.