West Kelowna considering another 3% tax hike

If council members follow district staff's initial direction, residents will face a 3 per cent tax increase for the second straight year.

If West Kelowna council members follow district staff’s initial direction, residents will face a three per cent tax increase for the second straight year.

Chief financial officer Jim Zaffino and deputy chief financial officer Tanya Garost overviewed West Kelowna’s 2013 draft budget during Tuesday’s council meeting.

The single largest increase in the 2013 operating budget is road maintenance. Provincial government assistance of $960,000 ended Dec. 7 and now the district is responsible for 100 per cent of the road maintenance and snow control costs.

The two other largest budget increases were bylaw operations and policing, which were increased by 17.47 per cent and 3.83 per cent respectively.

Next year is West Kelowna’s first without funding assistance from the province for RCMP or restructuring.

“Council knew this was coming,” said Zaffino.

“The plan, from 2008 onward, took this into consideration…we didn’t want to have a huge increase in 2013.”

Through growth and operating cost savings, a total of $98,416 has been identified as discretionary funds. Council may choose to use that money to reduce the tax increase to 2.58 per cent or use it to fund requests for increased service levels.

Mayor Doug Findlater said he was “very pleased” with the draft budget.

“(Staff has) done a great job over the years of anticipating the loss of provincial funding at the end of the transition period, which was set up through the governance study,” said Findlater.

“That isn’t going to have a big impact on us.”

Council will begin comprehensive deliberations on the 2013 budget in January and will provide an opportunity for public input throughout the process, with final adoption expected in April 2013.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

 

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