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Kelowna city budget deliberations to start Thursday

 

Kelowna city council will hammer out its 2013 budget on Thursday.

During an all-day session at city Hall where officials from all city departments, including the RCMP, fire department and airport will make presentations, council will review the 2013 provisional financial plan.

City manager Ron Mattiussi has recommended a 2.54 per cent tax increase for 2013 after reviewing all the requirements for 2013. Last year the tax increase was 1.1 per cent.

"My goal is to maintain existing core services while providing for the maintenance requirements of existing infrastructure," said City Manager, Ron Mattiussi. "It's important to continue to provide services, infrastructure and other amenities consistent with council priorities, but reflective of the current economic climate."

The tax demand for 2013 is based on a number of current factors, said Mattiussi, including increasing RCMP staff to a level appropriate to Kelowna's needs. An independent study conducted for the city in late 2010 showed Kelowna needed as many as 22 more RCMP officers. Twelve were added for 2012 and four more will be added in 2013. Additional officers are expected to be added over the next few years.

But the additions come at a cost. The move to beef up police presence in the city has resulted one per cent of the proposed 2.54 tax increase just to support additional police as well as fire protection services. Some money, however, has been saved as there has been a delay in getting the new officers here.

After council spends the day reviewing and questioning staff submissions for the 2013 provisional budget, it will establish the tax rate. And based on previous years, that could mean a slight decrease or increase to the figure Mattiussi recommended heading into deliberations. Carry-forward budget items from 2012 will be calculated in the New Year and a final tax rate will be set in May.

According to the city, this year, Kelowna had the fourth-lowest property tax and user fee charges among B.C. cities with populations greater than 75,000. Over the last three years the average tax increase has been 1.7 per cent.

Last year's total municipal tax and user fees (before the Home Owner Grant was applied) for an average Kelowna house was $3,653—29 per cent below the average of the 17 largest cities in B.C.

The $99.5  million in property taxes collected by the  city in 2012 accounted for less than a quarter of the city's $419 million in revenues for 2012. User fees, charges, reserve accounts and grants brought in 76 per cent of revenues.

This year, the is looking to collect $103.1 million in taxes, the first time the figure has surpassed $100 million.

 

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