Fire and police represent half of expected Kelowna tax increase

The increase amounts to the average homeowner paying an additional $82 in municipal taxes.

Council to decide on a 4.4 per cent tax increase Thursday.

If you’re looking for something to pin Kelowna’s proposed 4.4 per cent municipal tax increase on, look no further than the RCMP and the fire department, city council was told Monday.

During the preview of the financial plan for 2017, council heard that the increase— which amounts to the average homeowner paying an additional $82 in municipal taxes—is at least half to do with the police and fire department. with an assessed value of $558,370

For the cost of the new RCMP building, a contract increase and a retro payment, it amounts to 1.56 per cent of the increase. Then there’s another .5 per cent increase related to the hiring of two new RCMP members. All in all, that amounts to approximately $30 million, or 2.1 per cent of the tax increase.

For the Kelowna Fire Department, the costs are attributable to the $1.3 million cost of upgrading the Glenmore Fire Station,  and hiring 12 new firefighters which amounts to $17.2 million or .38 of the total tax increase.

They’re sizeable expenditures, but so is the amount of taxation that the city collects.

In 2017, it’s anticipated there will be $127.5 million collected in taxes, council heard. Civic operations accounts for the most significant part of the operating budget, at $31 million.

Councillors offered little in relation to the budget preview as actual deliberations are set for Thursday, but Mayor Colin Basran pointed out the experience is multifaceted.

“It’s a stressful time for council and staff,” said Basran.  “It’s also good that we can look at all the good work we’ve done in the past and what’s in the future.”

Kelowna was said the fifth lowest municipal tax rate on a typical home among the 17 B.C. cities with a population of more than 75,000. The average municipal tax levy in cities of that size is $2,235, council heard.

A single-family home with an assessed value of $558,370, which is the average price of a city home, would see their tax bill rise to $1,942.