The City of Penticton has opened up feedback on the draft budget for 2021 and there a few things that may be helpful to know.
The biggest impact on the year on the city’s budget was of course COVID-19, and despite some optimistic news on potential vaccines, the pandemic and restrictions are likely to stick around and continue to play a factor for a long time to come.
The 2020 budget had included $2 million in revenue from Cascades Casino for example, but after the early closure this year, is expecting to receive only $340,000. For 2021, the city is budgeting for $500,000 from the casino.
The city is gathering feedback on the draft corporate and financial plans for 2021.
Financially, the biggest impacts to residents will be in higher utilities and higher taxes.
Taxes will be increasing by 2.25 per cent, two percent to address inflation and 0.25 per cent to address the impact of COVID-19. Utility rates will be increasing for water and for sewer. Council voted previously to not increase electrical utility rates, and instead draw off the electric utility reserve.
Yearly, residential taxes will be going up by an average of $25, stormwater utility costs by $11, water by $39, and sewer by $89 for a total increase of $164.
Businesses can expect a larger change, with a yearly increase of $420 to taxes, $32 for stormwater utility costs, $230 for water, and $781 for sewer for the average business.
The tax increases and the values are based on the city’s predicted changes for residential property values to rise by five percent in 2021 compared to 2020, and for commercial property values to drop by five per cent.
City revenues in the draft corporate plan are estimated at $118.8 million including the increase of $1.7 million from the higher taxes and utilities, with the total expenses for services estimated to total $52.4 million including the expected increase in costs of $1.9 million.
The draft corporate business plan for 2021 from the city outlines some of the major projects they plan to either begin or complete in 2021.
Staff laid out 13 operating budget requests that would require council’s support. In total, the 13 requests would cost $816,500, with $100,000 paid through the electrical utility for an electrical engineer in training.
Other projects in the operating budget include beginning the process for hiring two additional RCMP members for $172,000, an update to the development cost charges bylaw for $150,000, improving the city’s network security and disaster recovery as a service for $100,000 and new collection methods and receptacles for waste and recycling in Penticton’s beaches and parks.
Feedback will be at shapeyourcitypenticton.ca, as well as through a single in-person event on Nov. 18, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the trade and convention centre.
People interested in registering will be required to do so in advance and be provided with a specific time-slot for when they will be allowed to attend. To register, you can call 250-490-2464.
The city will also be holding budget talks from Nov. 24 to 26.
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