The 2022 budget deliberations got underway Monday and will continue on Tuesday to go over what is contributing to the proposed 8.5 per cent tax increase in Penticton.
The special council meetings are held at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre and are open to the public for comment.
There are 78 full-time employees with the city and there are plans to add three police officers to its 2022 budget at a cost of $588,000, city staff told council on Monday.
Those officers will help continue the successful prolific offender unit, said RCMP Supt. Brian Hunter.
The city will make $4.3 million worth of investments in facilities in 2022, including $565,000 in upgrades to the city work yard, $820,000 in equipment upgrades at Cleland Theatre and $650,000 for a new two-bay four-engine storage facility at fire hall #2.
There is $660,000 set aside in the budget for new washrooms at Riverside and adding to Okanagan Lake. Staff are looking for grants to help bring down the costs for that. Vandalism to washrooms and needed security upgrades to existing ones will cost taxpayers an extra $75,000.
The RCMP detachment is looking for $400,000 for replacing their HVAC system and creating a special air filtration for officers handling toxic drugs.
The Skaha Marina replacement is slated to cost $100,000.
There are also costs for the SS Sicamous in 2022 with $120,000 in fire protection and painting.
The city is looking to spend $75,000 on a community safety review.
Dean Clarke, general manager of the South Okanagan Events Centre who also manages the PTCC said they’ve taken a major revenue hit in 2021 with no concerts so far this year.
Penticton council watchdog Lynn Kelsey asked the panel to look at what things can be put off for another year to bring the high tax hike down a bit.
“Even if you shave off one per cent, you show the citizens you recognize their hardships,” she said.
Another council watchdog Jordan Shade said the hefty increase in electricity rates will hit everyone hard.
“I’m on a fixed income and I can tell you this will affect me. I’ve talked to some businesses downtown and they can’t afford their rent let alone an increased electrical bill,” said Shade.
Mayor John Vassilaki expressed his disappointment in the lack of people who showed up to comment on the budget.
“If you aren’t here to give us your opinion, don’t complain about the budget,” said Vassilaki.
The budget deliberations continue on Tuesday.
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