West Kelowna council settles on 3% tax increase

Coun. Carol Zanon argued for a lower tax increase, but in the end West Kelowna stuck with three per cent.

An average tax increase of three per cent is what West Kelowna property owners have been told that they will likely face since January.

Now it’s official.

West Kelowna council opted to stick with a three per cent tax increase during Tuesday’s council meeting.

The hike is over double what the Westside’s neighbours to the east are facing.

“The headline number might not be good in relation to the headline number in Kelowna, but we don’t set our finance policies based on newspaper headlines, we set them based on what’s right long-term for the citizens of West Kelowna,” said Coun. Duane Ophus.

Council also learned that the Westside has $472,000 in surplus funds from 2011 during Tuesday’s meeting.

Coun. Carol Zanon argued that the Westside should be sharing the wealth.

“Since we have a windfall, I say let’s be fair about it,” said Zanon.

“I don’t know anybody in this community that got a three per cent raise on any kind of agreement this year. . .people are hurting.

“I say why not be kind and spread this out a little bit and give our citizens a little bit more of a break?”

Coun. Bryden Winsby said he struggled to decide whether or not to use extra funds to give taxpayers some relief, but decided that sticking with a three per cent increase may be more beneficial in the long run.

“I think it’s prudent on our part and we’re doing a greater service to taxpayers by building reserves as much as we can,” said Winsby.

Mayor Doug Findlater said he wishes the increase was a little less; however, he thinks the municipality has come to terms with three per cent.

“I’m not going to nickel and dime this and try to play around and bring it in under three per cent—I’ll accept that,” said Findlater.

“We are doing an awful lot of stuff. . .nearly $20 million worth of capital projects this year.

“We had several consultations right here in this room—we had very little participation and even less negative feedback about the three per cent (raise). I take that as indicative that people understand that these are the costs of urbanizing a municipality.”

Council voted five to one in favour of the three per cent tax hike, with Coun. Carol Zanon opposed and Coun. Gord Milsom absent.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

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