TAX INCREASE Property taxes for a typical home in Summerland will increase by $74.22 this year. The budget calls for a 3.5 per cent tax increase. (John Arendt/Summerland Review)

Summerland budget includes funding to enhance services

Nearly $170,000 allocated to increase levels of municipal service

Property taxes in Summerland will increase by 3.5 per cent this year, but David Svetlichny, director of finance for the municipality, says the 2019 budget has been kept as lean as possible.

“Council did a lot of work looking at the budget,” he said. “We have very lean budgets.”

Of the 3.5 per cent tax increase, one per cent will go towards general operating costs and 2.5 per cent will go towards capital reserves.

The levels of service will remain constant, and additional funds have been set aside in four areas.

An additional $40,000 has been allocated for more street repair work. Another $50,000 will go towards sidewalk maintenance. A total of $70,000 has been allocated for downtown vibrancy, including $50,000 for the development of a downtown plan. Landfill operations will receive an additional $9,250.

Svetlichny said these costs total around $170,000. A one per cent tax increase brings in around $88,000.

READ ALSO: Summerland tax bill to increase by 3.5% this year

READ ALSO: Summerland municipal staff discussing budget

He added that tax increases are needed in order to maintain the level of services provided by the municipality. Without increases, the municipality would be forced to reduce some of its service levels.

“Those are really the only two options,” he said.

The remainder of the tax increase, which is for capital reserves, will help to fund future capital projects in the community, including the Summerland Aquatic Centre, which is nearing the end of its useful life.

The municipality’s general fund receives around 43 per cent of the $36.6 million budget.

General government costs come to just over $1.9 million, protective services are $2.97 million, garbage and recycling costs add $1.77 million, development services costs come in at just under $1.05 million, cemetery services expenses are $125,048 and recreational and cultural services cost $2.82 million.

Water, sewer and electrical utilities make up more than one-third of the total budget.

Debt charges add more than $3 million, and transfers to capital and reserves come to $3.68 million.

The municipality’s electrical utility generates $500,000 a year. Without this money, taxes would have to increase by six per cent to bring in the same amount of money for the municipality.

For a typical property with an assessed value of $584,900, the 3.5 per cent increase works out to an additional $74.22 on the tax bill.

Linda Tynan, Summerland’s chief administrative officer, said the tax increase is comparable with other communities.

The increse in Penticton is 3.6 per cent, while in Peachland, it is 3.2 per cent.

In Osoyoos, taxes are increasing by 2.93 per cent. Kelowna’s tax increase is 4.43 per cent. Vernon taxes will increase by 5.57 per cent and in Salmon Arm, the increase is 4.88 per cent.

Two Okanagan communities will have considerably higher tax increases this year. In Oliver, the increase is nine per cent, while in Lake Country, it is 8.7 per cent.

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