Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna looking at ways to reduce 2020 budget amid COVID-19 crisis

‘We need to lessen the burden on our citizens where we can.’ - Doug Gilchrest, city manager

As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, residents of the City of Kelowna may see lower than planned taxes for the coming year.

In December, council approved the provisional 2020 budget with a 4.15 per cent tax increase — an $87 increase for the average household.

That increase is comprised of a 2.33 per cent operational increase and a 1.82 per cent hike to the city’s infrastructure levy.

While there is no specific number in mind yet, the city is looking at reducing that number by nixing some non-essential items from the 2020 budget.

“We’re doing a full analysis of the budget submissions for 2020 … and determining where there are opportunities to kind of tighten our belt a little bit but also ensure we’re continuing to stimulate the local economy and support jobs in our community,” said city manager Doug Gilchrest.

A fine balance must be struck, according to Gilchrest, because every dollar spent by the municipality ends up in the local economy supporting people’s livelihood.

“We want to see that continue, but we acknowledge there’s a need to eliminate or reduce unnecessary expenditures at the same time,” he said. “We need to lessen the burden on our citizens where we can.”

Gilchrest said those cuts would come from non-essential services where the economic impact would be less significant.

It will be a couple of weeks before city staff’s recommended changes are brought before council.

The finalized 2020 budget doesn’t need to be adopted by the city until May, at which time it will again go to council.

READ MORE: Unconfirmed report of COVID-19 at Kelowna General Hospital

READ MORE: Taking time off work due to COVID-19 now falls under medical leave


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