The City of Penticton has settled on a date for the 2017 budget deliberations.
They will now be taking place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 21 to 23 in council chambers at City Hall. A draft financial plan and meeting agenda is promised to be available to the public by Feb. 17.
The budget talks, originally planned for Nov. 22, 2016, were delayed to Jan. 24 to allow more time for public input on the infrastructure deficit, facilities and other issues facing the community.
On Jan. 20, city hall announced the talks would be delayed again, after the new chief administrative officer, Peter Weeber, asked for more time to get up to speed. Weeber took over as CAO in early January from Mitch Moroziuk, who filled the position on a temporary basis after Eric Sorenson resigned in Sept. 2016.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said he didn’t think delaying the budget should cause any hardships and accommodations could be discussed for groups like the Penticton Art Gallery or the Peach Festival that rely on standing grants from the city as part of their budget.
Last year’s budget talks were marked by a shift away from minimal tax increases Penticton taxpayers have enjoyed for a number of years. Former CAO Sorensen advised city council 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 had built up to $2.7 million.