Budget talks begin later this month

Penticton city council is preparing to discuss the city's 2017 budget

Penticton city council begins discussions on the city's 2017 budget on Jan. 24.

After a year of talking about the cost of maintaining city facilities and the need to develop a plan to deal with the cost of Penticton’s ageing infrastructure, city council is sitting down to talk budget.

Last year’s budget talks were marked by a shift away from minimal tax increases after council was warned by former chief administrative officer Eric Sorensen they should consider at least a four per cent tax increase for 2016 and 2017. Sorenson said Penticton needs about a 10 per cent tax increase over the next three years to deal with its structural deficit, which has built up to $2.7 million over the last five years.

Read more: Residents should expect tax increases

The 2017 budget deliberations will also have to take into account the development of an asset management plan to deal with future infrastructure spending requirements.

The first presentation, on the morning of Jan. 24, is an overview of the draft plan from Jim Bauer, who took over as chief financial officer in November 2016. The public will also have a chance to comment at this time.

Read more: More turnover in senior management

Bauer’s introduction is followed by three days of presentations and discussions as council reviews financial requests from all city departments and utilities.

A copy of the draft financial plan and a detailed agenda for the meetings will be available online and at City Hall by Jan. 20. For those unable to attend in person, a live video feed of the proceedings will be available on the City of Penticton website as well as regular updates on the City’s social media channels.

Site: City of Penticton

Council meets from Jan. 24 to 26 to discuss the draft five-year financial plan in a series of special council meetings. The regular Jan 24 meeting was moved to Jan. 17 to accommodate the 2017 budget discussions.

City staff will be amending the draft based on the outcome of the discussions and submit the 2017 budget for final approval in the Feb. 7 council meeting.

The budget meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a public question period at the end of the day. If the deliberations require more time, Feb.1 has been set aside as a contingency date for further council discussions.

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