Kelowna city hall proposing a 4.4 per cent property tax hike in 2019

City says 1.95 per cent of the hike would be for a controversial ‘infrastructure deficit’ levy

The City of Kelowna is looking at a 4.4 per cent average increase to municipal property taxes in 2019.

In a report going to city council Monday, city staff the provisional 2019 financial plan, which includes the budget, includes a 2.45 per cent hike in general municipal taxes and a 1.95 per cent levy to help pay for future infrastructure.

Last week the city’s finance department said Kelowna is facing a $477 million “infrastructure deficit” over the next 10 years.

The proposed total tax increase in the 2019 budget, as proposed, would result in an $88 increase for the average single-detached home in Kelowna with an assessed value of $682,260.

The total operating budget proposed for 2019 is $139.4 million.

RELATED: Kelowna budget approved—but not unanimously

Council will deliberate on the proposed budget during an all-day session at city hall Dec. 13 and the final tax increase—pending any tweaks by council during it deliberations and following the deliberations—will be announced in April. Last year’s increase was 3.84 per cent.

This city says year’s proposed budget highlights the adoption of the Imagine Kelowna initiative, which sough public input on how the city should deliver on a number of the goals such as embracing diverse transportation options, creating what it describes as “great” public spaces that bring people together, being resilient in the face of climate change and building healthy neighbourhoods that support a variety of households.

The provisional 2019 budget highlights also include:

• Investment in downtown safety and cleanliness

• Bolstering first-responder resources such as police and fire fighting with 16 new front line personnel, including eight more firefighters to staff a full-time fire hall in the Glenmore area and six more police offers over the next two years. Both the RCMP and fire department are also asking for more support staff. The fire department wants two more casual dispatchers and the RCMP wants an operational intelligence clerk and a forensics video analyst. The budget estimates the total cost of police services next year at $33.4 million and the total cost of fire protection at $19.6 million.

• Allocating funding for land acquisition, specifically for affordable housing partnership opportunities as a new approach towards housing pressures faced by the community

• Delivering on “balanced” transportation networks with the construction of both the Ethel Avenue and Sutherland Avenue active transportation corridors and the accelerated delivery of the South Perimeter Road and Gordon Drive extensions

• Renewing and expanding parkland and waterfront access including City Park, Knox Mountain’s Paul’s Tomb Trail, Glenmore Recreation Park and interim access at the Hobson Road park property

• Investments in storm drainage improvements to mitigate impacts of flooding and climate change

Transportation is the largest capital expenditure in the budget at $28.4 million.

As part of the budget deliberations, city staff will recommend council consider the introduction of the controversial 1.95 per cent infrastructure levy in both 2019 and 2020 budgets. It is one of the options being proposed to fund a $477 million infrastructure deficit identified in the 10-Year Capital Plan.

“It is one of the ways we can take action and be resourceful in investing in our future so that Kelowna continues to be a great place to live,” says the staff report.

“As a financially resourceful municipality, the City of Kelowna has multiple revenue sources. Taxation represents 36 per cent. User fees and charges, grants, sponsorship and advertising, reserves and surpluses are other forms of revenue sources.”

The net taxation demand in the provisional Budget calls for collection of $139.4 million.

Capital investment, not including the Kelowna International Airport or the city’s utilities is pegged at $60.9 million with $13.6 million funded from taxation. The report says 39 per cent of that will go the renewal of infrastructure, 49 per cent for growth and 12 per cent for new infrastructure

For 2019, the budget includes $11.1 million in operating requests, with $7.1 million to be funded from taxation. There is also $217,000 in expenditure reductions.

The City of Kelowna 2019 Financial Plan is now available for review at kelowna.ca/budget.

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