West Kelowna municipal property taxes are going up 2.4 per cent this year.
Council settled on the increase Friday after going over the 2015 draft budget and 10-year capital plan and hearing assessment growth in the district is now projected to jump 4.13 per cent this year, substantially higher than the one per cent predicted in a review by B.C. Assessment.
The larger increase will result in an additional $1.04 million in tax revenue for the district, say West Kelowna officials.
The district will allocate just under $3.3 million of the revenue it will collect this year to its reserves, pushing the total on hand to $33.5 million by the end of 2015.
The district’s finance department says while prioritizing capital projects and moving some to future years has kept the West Kelonwa reserve amount stable, a number of upcoming projects will mean the reserves will start being used more heavily starting this year.
The 10-year capital plan calls for $9,161,736 in capital expenditures in 2015including:
• Westbank Cemetery upgrades and expansion – $805,000
• Horizon Village lift station construction – $1,400,000
• Road rehabilitation and pedestrian improvements – $750,000
• Traffic calming construction in Glenrosa, Pritchard, Casa Loma and South Boucherie – $640,000
• Gosset Road, Westbank Centre, streetscape design – $125,000
• Bridge maintenance – $190,000
• Casa Loma remedial drainage work – $550,000
• Drainage improvements on Ponderosa Road – $375,000
• Keefe Creek drainage improvements – $295,000
• CNR Wharf phase 2 design – $30,000
• Recreational trail improvements – $300,000
• Design of a new skate park at Memorial Park – $40,000
• Design of tiered seating in Memorial Park – $62,000
• Vineyard Park plan – $30,000
• Kinsmen Park master plan and playground replacement- $80,000
• A five-year update of Parks and Recreation Master Plan – $35,000
• Phase 2 of the Upper Glenrosa Area Plan – $100,000
• Sanitary sewer odour control – $60,000
Capital requests for equipment total $493,000 and include a new water truck for watermain flushing and road cleaning.
The district also plans to hire more staff in 2015.
Eleven more employees, including an assistant fire chief and four more firefighters will be hired, along with the creation of a summer student position for the parks department, a seasonal parks labourer and parks operator, a building inspector,information services technician and a development engineering technician.
The total cost of the additional staff will be $762,135 this year and will be offset by first-year savings of $162,644 and ongoing recoveries through service agreements of $57,852.
The district says the additional employees are needed to ensure service levels remain at what it describes as “current effectiveness.”
Council was be asked to consider early approval of the 11 positions at yesterday’s meeting. The result of that discussion was slated to be made after the Capital News deadline Tuesday. This story will be updated here on kelownacapnews.com when the result is known.