Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna City Hall. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna’s 2021 preliminary budget proposes 4.27% tax increase

Proposed budget calls for eight new RCMP officers

A preliminary version of the City of Kelowna’s 2021 budget is calling for a 4.27 per cent increase in taxes.

The tax hike, according to the city, would result in a $90 annual increase ($7.50 per month) for the average single-detached home in Kelowna.

City council will receive an overview of the financial plan on Monday, before deliberating the 476-page document in full on Thursday.

The preliminary document shows a projected operating budget of $157.6 million, a $7.1-million increase from last year’s $150.5 million.

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Some of the more significant costs and projects outlined in the budget include eight new RCMP members, at a cost of nearly $400,000 in 2021 and rising to more than $1.4 million in the following two years; $33.4 million in renewal and upgrade projects; $12.7 million to develop more parks and green space; $1.9 million in new transportation projects; and almost $600,000 in support programs and initiatives to address the city’s complex social issues.

The sector with the largest budget increase is community safety, increasing $3.1 million to $43.6 million. About 91 per cent of that is allocated to the RCMP, which has a $39.4-million budget, an increase of $2.8 million. Bylaw services saw an increase of $36,000, bringing it to a total budget of $2.7-million. The rest of the community safety budget — around $1.5 million, an increase of $290,000 — is allocated to various safety and crime prevention projects.

You can view the budget in full on the city’s website.

For the 2020 budget, the city halved the proposed 4.15 per cent tax increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic when it was given final approval in May. The total tax increase from 2019 to 2020 ended up being 2.05 per cent.

A similarly sized tax hike of 4.47 per cent was proposed in Vernon’s 2020 budget deliberations, but council whittled it down to just 2.13 per cent, largely by pausing the infrastructure levy program — responsible for 1.9 per cent of the tax burden — for one year.

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