To the editor:
The 2019 West Kelowna budget’s capital, operational, and supplemental full-time employee requests produced financial approvals to be taken to taxpayers at a public open house Feb. 20 at the West Kelowna Lions Hall.
The budget was prepared based on a three per cent property tax increase. Almost all recommended capital items, operational budget requests and supplemental full-time requests for 19 additional employees were approved, along with an additional $7.3 million for reserves. The majority of that amount ($7 million) is going towards a future city hall building.
So our taxes are paying for a building we do not even have the benefit of using. This is because the council refuses to build a city hall on currently owned city land (11 acres at Bartley Road and Stevens Road) and instead want to purchase more land in what it calls the downtown core, Westbank Centre. But the budget, with a three per cent increase, had funds remaining to be spent or allocated of around $100,000.
So what did council do after they learned all of the requests for operations, capital, new full-time employees and utilities would be totally covered by a three per cent tax increase with about $100,000 left over? They talked about increasing the tax to 3.88 per cent or even 4.88 per cent.
Coun. Stephen Johnston (who in the end still voted for the increase) asked the Mayor Gordon Milsom where he came up with that tax increase figure. The mayor stated the following: “I just want to get away from the three per cent and I like eights.”
Council voted to raise the increase to 3.88 per cent with no real rationale except it may want to spend it on something and it’s only a few dollars more for taxpayers.
This city council is hoping you are not paying attention. It is planning on blaming the additional .88 per cent increase on the new (provincial) medical (tax), but those costs were already included in the proposed three per cent increase.
Good luck West Kelowna. The new council is spending much more of your money than you realize.
Everything the city spends is from taxpayers’ pockets. Did you get a 3.88 per cent increase in your wage or pension?