Penticton residents might be getting some relief as electrical rates are set to decrease and the planned tax increase will be lower than originally intended.
City council directed staff to look at reducing the costs for electricity by three per cent and the lowering the tax rate increase to 1.75 per cent in the 2021 budget.
In the budget approved by the council after their budget deliberations in November, taxes were to increase in 2021 by 2.25 percent, with two per cent to address inflation and 0.25 to address the impact of COVID-19.
Council debated about potentially going for a zero per cent tax increase, proposed by Coun. Campbell Watt, before settling on approving the city to look at a tax increase of 1.75 per cent instead of following a proposal by Coun. Frank Regehr.
Regehr’s proposal passed in a 4-2 vote, with Mayor John Vassilaki and Watt opposing.
Utility rates were also going up, with the average residential property seeing their stormwater costs go up by $11, water costs by $39, sewer costs by $89 and residential taxes by $25 a year.
The average business was looking at an increase of $420 in taxes, $32 in stormwater, $230 for water and $781 for sewer utility costs.
City staff will be looking at reducing the costs of the electric utilities to offset the increases in the other utilities following council’s direction.
The proposed three per cent reduction in the electric utility costs would be partially offset by drawing from the electricity utility reserves and partially through lower than expected rate increases for the wholesale price of electricity purchased by the city from FortisBC.
The electric utility cost-cutting would not result in a change in the service provided by the city, and the city will be looking at whether there will need to be service cuts as a result of the lower tax increase.
Council will be holding a special meeting at 12 p.m. on Dec. 10 to deliberate on the budget change.
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