West Kelowna residents can expect a 2.95 per cent tax increase this year.
Council gave third reading to the tax hike Tuesday, which was initially proposed to be an increase of three per cent. The tax increase will add $46.16 to property taxes on an average district home assessed at $467,445.
The increase will give the district $380,503 for reserves, which will go toward future expenditures.
Coun. Carol Zanon suggested council should consider putting one-third of the unallocated funds toward decreasing the tax increase for residents.
“I certainly have a lot of sympathy for (Zanon’s) point of view in that regard—it’s true that tax increases are difficult, any increase in expenses is difficult for a lot of people in our community,” said Ophus.
“In order to continue to deliver services at an acceptable level, and some of the improvements that the majority of the community want on an ongoing basis, a three per cent tax increase is just the cold, hard reality.”
Mayor Doug Findlater said the three per cent target received little opposition from the public through consultation and an open house. He noted some residents even showed an appetite for a higher tax increase.
“Putting it into reserves is a wise thing to do for those projects that come along and need to be funded,” said Findlater.
Coun. David Knowles was the only councillor to vote against the 2.95 per cent tax hike.
“Some of our residents and businesses are, in my estimation, hanging on by their fingernails,” said Knowles.
“This is just too much for some people.”
This is the fifth year in a row West Kelowna’s tax increase has been between two to three per cent. It’s the first budget in West Kelowna’s history that doesn’t include provincial funding for RCMP or restructuring.