West Kelowna’s 2021 budget, and the accompanying 4.05 per cent tax increase, has been adopted — but not without its dissenters.
Councillors Rick de Jong and Doug Findlater were the lone votes against the budget on Tuesday evening, holding their stance that the tax hike is blind to the economic hardships residents are experiencing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I simply think it’s too much at the wrong time, this year,” said Findlater. “Many residents hanging on; businesses hanging on … And I am concerned our timing is off on this.”
Mayor Gord Milsom, however, said his goal is the city’s “long-term success and prosperity.” The increase, equating to around $84 for the average West Kelowna homeowner, is necessary to make up deferred projects and staff hiring slashed to cut the 2020 budget, the mayor claimed.
“This year’s budget is a fiscally prudent budget which directs spending to our communities needs for today and for the future,” said Milsom, speaking in support of the budget.
Milsom also pointed to the several breaks it has given its residents throughout the pandemic, including last year’s two per cent tax cut, and the recently implemented patio extension program.
“We continue to adapt our culture with an all-hands-on-deck approach to help our local business owners, their employees, entrepreneurs, developers, tourism operators and others to recover as quickly as possible from the pandemic,” the mayor said.
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