West Kelowna city council has given its 2021 budget another thumbs up, but some councillors say the 4.05 per cent tax increase is excessive amid the financial turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It seems to be oblivious to the fact there is a pandemic going on,” said Coun. Doug Findlater, who was one of two votes against moving the budget ahead to a final reading along with Coun. Rick de Jong.
In December, council approved a 4.75 per cent increase when initially considering the preliminary budget. However, a 2.2 per cent growth forecast allowed the city to claw back the increase. That growth nets the city another $756,000 in tax dollars, according to city staff.
But even the scaled-back 4.05 per cent hike didn’t sit well with de Jong and Findlater. While voting in favour of it, Coun. Carol Zanon also admitted her reluctance to support the budget in its current state. The increase is still up more than a full percentage point from 2020’s 2.8 per cent.
Mayor Gord Milsom said residents have stressed the need for investment in infrastructure like roads, storm drainage and sidewalks, and “This budget will allow us to move forward in those areas.”
Coun. de Jong said he supported the mayor’s sentiment, “but 4.05 loses me.”
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