An originally-proposed 4.75 per cent tax increase for the citizens of West Kelowna has been reduced.
After edits made by council and staff, the final 2021-2025 financial plan resulted in a proposed 4.05 per cent tax increase.
West Kelowna council and staff discussed for hours on Jan. 19 the proposed budget, before settling on the proposed increase.
Council chose to keep a one per cent infrastructure tax, introduced this year with the intent of accelerating road, transportation, and drainage improvements. This is valued at $40.8 million, which will be spent over the coming years.
This is part of council’s commitment to focus on infrastructure over the next four years. Priorities include improving sidewalks, cycling lanes and intersection improvements at Stevens/Bartley/Shannon Lake Roads, as well as Gellatly and Carrington Roads.
“We do see continual requests for items that our residents are wanting. We see a lot in our recreation area, we see a lot on bike lanes, we see a lot on sidewalks. And I think COVID has exaggerated the need for those types of infrastructure projects,” said Coun. Jason Friesen, adding he anticipates a spike in their population in the near future.
“We around this table have talked a lot about different roads and areas that we really have a problem with, and are going to have a much bigger problem within the very near future.”
Grants were approved for 21 West Kelowna not-for-profit groups, totalling $114,325. Council also approved over $300,000 in in-kind grants, aimed at reducing rental fees locally.
After four hours, council gave second reading to the 2021-25 financial plan, as amended, including a tax increase of 4.05 per cent.
Public engagements for the 2021 to 2025 financial plan will take place virtually in February, just before the council’s final adoption of the budget in the spring.
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