Kelowna city Coun. Tracy Gray.—Image credit: Capital News file

Kelowna budget approved—but not unanimously

City Coun. Tracy Gray opposes new city staff included in the 2017 budget.

Kelowna city council has approved its 2017 budget—but the vote was not unanimous.

Coun. Tracy Gray, who questioned the hiring of more city staff in the budget during deliberations on the annual final plan in December, said Monday she still has issues with adding more city staff so she could not vote to approve the budget as it was presented.

“I think that many of the positions are wants, not needs,” said Gray.

Despite her opposition, the budget was approved in a 8-1 vote.

Council shaved 0.02 per cent off the proposed residential tax hike it set earlier this year for 2017 thanks to better-than-expected new construction revenue. The municipal tax increase for 2017 will be 3.84 per cent.

“We often see changes between provisional and final budget,” said financial planning manager George King in his presentation to council Monday.

“New information is available between December and April, including emergent items, which are included in final budget. (In) this final budget, we saw a decrease in franchise fee revenues from Fortis BC due to lower commodity costs, and a funding request for construction of a 20-kilometre paddle trail from Bertram Creek to McKinley Landing. These adjustments were offset by an increase in new construction revenue.”

Council also approved the first phase of work on the new city amalgamated water plan that will see the South East Kelowna Irrigation District join the city’s water utility in 2020.

In the meantime, work will start on the $63 million multi-year, first phase of the plan, with $43 million to be covered by the federal and the provincial governments through a recently announced grant.

The first work will improve the water distribution infrastructure in what is now the SEKID system. It was considered the top priority for water improvement in the entire city.

Three other city water providers—Rutland Water Works, Glenmore-Ellison Irrigation District and Black Mountain Improvement District all remain outside the plan after balking at a provincial requirement that they amalgamate with the city’s water utility as a condition of getting future grants.

According to the budget, this year city hall will collect $126 million in taxes.

The total budget is just over $227 million when the $101 million Kelowna will collect for other taxing jurisdictions is factored in.

A city property tax bill includes other user fees such as curbside trash collection and levies for other taxing authorities such as the school district, the regional district, the Okanagan Regional Library, the regional hospital district and B.C. Assessment Authority.

The 3.84 per cent tax increase means the owner of a single-family home assessed at the city average of $556,210 will pay $1,932 for the municipal portion of their property taxes.

Taxation will account for approximately one-third of the city’s funding this year, with the other two-thirds coming from grants, city reserve funds and other fees and charges.

Previous years’ budget commitments, such as the new police services building on Clement Avenue and the city’s cost for the contract with the RCMP accounted for 1.56 per cent of this year’s 3.84 per cent increase.

This year’s budget also has future commitments that will affect future budgets, said King.

Council will start it’s deliberations for the 2018 budget this winter knowing it has already committed the equivalent of a 2.36 per cent tax increase thanks to prior years’ commitments.

In the past council has tried to keep the annual tax increase to around three per cent, in order to not only maintain existing programs and services but also add anything new that the city needs.

For more information about the City of Kelowna budget and to view the 2016 Financial Plan, go to the city’s website at kelowna.ca/budget.

Just Posted

Outbreak at Okanagan hospital

Gastrointestinal illness reported at Vernon Jubilee Hospital

Kelowna public menorah lit tonight to celebrate Hanukkah

The menorah will be lit tonight after celebrations at 5 p.m. in Stuart Park

Big Band supports children with disabilities in Lake Country

Proceeds from the Okanagan Big Band performance in Vernon supports local kids

Were your hockey cards stolen?

The Kelowna RCMP are looking to reunite a hockey fan with their cards

RCMP look to reunite owner with stolen tools

Kelowna police seek to identify the owner of tablet and tools seized by RCMP

VIDEO: New series takes in-depth look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Black Press takes a hard look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Warriors ground Rockets in Moose Jaw

Moose Jaw scores five in the third period to down Kelowna in Rockets’ third game of prairie road trip

Horgan says pot smokers may face same outdoor rules as cigarette smokers

B.C. is developing its rules on recreational marijuana

Dedicated volunteers look for clues

Police appreciate work of those who provide extra eyes for missing women investigations.

Truck driver volunteers to take dog lost in B.C. back home to Alberta

Frankie, a pit bull service dog, was found wandering in the Lower Mainland

B.C. teacher suspended after explicit images projected to class

Jeffrey Rohin Muthanna had been viewing porn on a school laptop for two years

Man who pledged to give B.C. hockey team millions charged with fraud

Mike Gould has since repaid $8,000 he allegedly owed Cranbrook restaurant, owner says

Horgan on Site C: ‘dammed’ if did, ‘dammed’ if he didn’t

B.C. premier didn’t like keeping massive hydro damn project going, but felt he had to

Strong economy fuels housing sales in B.C.: report

Economist says demand for houses is being supported by a large number of millennials entering the market

Most Read