In the end, Kelowna’s planned one-tenth of one per cent 2012 property tax increase was too good to be true.
Thanks to the need for more police officers in the city, and council’s willingness to heed the advice of a consultant who said a sizeable number of them should be hired this year to kick start the RCMP’s ability to focus on crime prevention, Kelowna property owners are now facing a 1.12 per cent average tax increase this year.
In a report to go to council Monday afternoon, city manager ROn Mattiussi says Kelowna’s final budget for 2012 will see the increase of just over one per cent from the figure settled on in preliminary budget deliberations earlier this year in large part because of the plan to hire seven more RCMP officers than originally planned.
The preliminary budget, with a proposed tax increase of just 0.11 per cent, included an allowance for four more RCMP officers. The increase
But since then, the city has received the report it commissioned consultant Robert Prosser to prepare that said the city needs to add at least 15 more officers, sooner rahter than later to not only to ease the huge caseload Kelowna RCMP detachment members currently carry but also to allow the force here to concentrate more on preventing crime than simply responding to it.
“Excluding the transfer of taxes to other governments, there are final budget expenditure requests totalling $1,466,409 which are offset by a reduction in recoveries (revenues or reserves) of $182,831,” said city manager Ron Mattiussi in the report going to council.
“Included in these totals is the taxation requirement to address policing resourcing ($969,500), impacts for the provision of retroactive RCMP salary increases ($437,100) and impacts from the (new) Municipal Policing Agreement (between the province and the federal government) of $105,000.”
Mattiussi said the increase to the city budget is anticipated to be the first of similar tax hikes over the next four years as the city heeds Prosser’s cal for more police offciers. He said annual tax hikes of at least one per cent per year to cover the cost can be expected.
“A strategy to improve protective service resources over the next four years by adding a one per cent tax increase each year will provide the necessary support to an important service delivery area,” wrote Mattiussi. “A difficult decision during the current economic climate, but a decision that will enhance the safety of the citizens of Kelowna.”
The budget is expected to approved by council on Monday and the 1.12 per cent increase will add just over $18 per year to the municipal portion of the property taxes paid by the owner of a dwelling assessed at the average city value of $468,000.