West Kelowna city council will go over it’s 2018 budget today, a budget that calls for a three per cent tax increase for residential property owners this year.
According to West Kelowna chief administrative officer Jim Zaffino, like many cities, West Kelowna faces some key challenges and requires new investment to sustain the city into the future.
He says the budget not only provides for maintenance of the current service levels for residents, but also provides for the continued financial investments in programs, services and infrastructure needed to support the growing city going forward.
The budget includes $660,000 in discretionary funds and that money could be used to decrease taxes, increase reserves or pay for supplemental requests. The decision will be left to council.
This year, the city is looking at $590,000 worth of supplemental budget requests.
Zaffino says if the city uses the $660,000 in discretionary spending to reduce taxes , it could drop the proposed increase to 2.5 per cent this year.
One area where staff is not recommending the city spend more money is on the hiring of additional police officers.
Despite a request to add eight more officers, city staff have recommended council hold off, saying the city wants to first see the results of a long-awaited review of policing strength in the municipality before adding more officers. It also wants to know if the city is partially subsidizing the province for the cost of provincial officers who are supposed to be available to the city for policing. Those 20 officers are in addition to the 26 the city pays for as municipal officers.
West Kelowna council will kick off its budget deliberations today at 9 a.m. in city hall. A public open house on the budget will be held Jan 31 at the Okanagan Regional Library branch in Westbank.
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