Penticton’s city manager, Peter Weeber, says early 2018 budget projections forecast a three per cent budget increase. (File photo)

Penticton steps up budget engagement

Penticton city hall getting budget information to the community early

Penticton residents can expect to see a three per cent tax increase next year, according to early budget projections.

That translates to about $13 per $100,000 of home value, according to chief administrative officer Peter Weeber. That’s a little less than a $50/year increase for the average home in Penticton, which B.C. Assessment pegs at $368,000.

Related: Tax hikes projected to continue to 2021

“One per cent, right off the bat, goes to asset management. There is about 0.5 per cent in some of the new priorities that we are proposing for 2018 and the rest goes to inflation,” said Weeber, who listed of a number of the city’s assets, like the Trade and Convention Centre, that are in need of substantial repairs or maintenance.

Flood recovery plays a big part in the city’s capital expenses for 2018, as does Skaha Marina after the lease deal that would have seen it upgraded was cancelled earlier this year.

Related: City of Penticton releases Trio terminations docs

“Skaha Marina is at the end of its life. We have to replace it or we might have to shut it down, so we’re proposing a ($1.7-million) two-year revitalization of that facility,” said Weeber.

City Hall is doing more public consultation prior to bringing the budget before city council. Weeber admits that stems from the public furore and discussions over leasing Skaha Lake Park.

“While that was a difficult experience, what we’ve learned is that we have to be very careful about how we communicate and plan for the future,” said Weeber. “We are getting better and better the longer we do it.”

Weeber noted the financing for the South Okanagan Events Centre will be paid off by the end of 2018, allowing the city borrowing power for the Skaha Marina repairs and the planned $1.6-million revitalization of the 300 block of Main Street.

Weeber listed off some other city priorities that have become hot-button issues over the past year, including support for the new RCMP Community Support and Engagement Team.

“We are proposing funding for a new officer, restructure and working with our bylaw enforcement,” said Weeber. “We hope to have a new level of oversight in the downtown or the areas we are having the most security issues.”

That goes along with increased staff for the city’s Bylaw Enforcement department.

Based on strong market conditions, the 2018 budget is also proposing selling off some of the properties owned by the city.

“They are non-core land assets, meaning they serve no purpose to the city and there is no infrastructure value to them,” said Weeber. That includes a Forestbrook Drive property needing $80,000 in repairs; a vacant residential lot on Pineview Road and another on Gurnsey Avenue along with a vacant commercial lot at 98 Ellis St.

Weeber noted that liquidating the lots will save improvement costs and start generating tax revenue for the city.

The expanded community engagement for the budget process includes three public events and nearly two weeks of time to review the draft plan before it is shared with the city council.

“Last year, we improved the process by increasing the clarity of the financial information for the community,” said Jim Bauer, the city’s chief financial officer. “This year, we are continuing the work to improve the process by making the information available earlier, gathering feedback before we share it with council and further explaining what the financial plan will deliver to the community.

“The financial plan will balance planning for future infrastructure requirements while addressing the immediate needs of the community.”

Starting Nov. 15, the draft financial plan will be available online at shapeyourcitypenticton.ca. There will be three public meetings at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.

Nov. 22, 4 to 7 p.m.: Business Night

Members of the business community are invited to drop in to for a special preview of the plan and to attend a presentation at 5:30 p.m.

Nov. 23, 3 to 7 p.m.: Community Night

Residents are invited to drop in to view the displays, share their feedback with city staff and attend presentations at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.

Nov. 25, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Community Day

Residents are invited to drop in to view the displays and share their feedback with staff with entertainment on site to occupy the kids with Christmas crafts and activities.

The budget presentations and council discussions run Nov. 28 to 30 in council chambers at City Hall.

The 2018 Budget Primer presentation is now available at shapeyourcitypenticton.ca.

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