Couns. Campbell Watt and Helena Konanz listen on as chief financial officer Jim Bauer delivers the budget summary Tuesday morning to kick off budget talks. Deliberations were finalized Thursday afternoon, but council still needs to give the budget a final stamp of approval. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News)

Couns. Campbell Watt and Helena Konanz listen on as chief financial officer Jim Bauer delivers the budget summary Tuesday morning to kick off budget talks. Deliberations were finalized Thursday afternoon, but council still needs to give the budget a final stamp of approval. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News)

Penticton budget talks wrap up with 3.44% tax hike

Councillors will still need to give the budget final approval and settle on a business multiplier

With budget deliberations over, Penticton city council has added another half of a percentage point onto the three-per-cent tax bump initially forecast for the city next year.

Staff initially came to council with a budget that would include a three-per-cent bump to the current property taxes, with 1.5 per cent of that accounting for inflation, but with a net increase of $133,000 in spending, taxes will go up by a total of 3.44 per cent next year.

In all the changes include $100,000 added to a grant for the Youth Engagement Strategy (YES) Project’s youth centre, bringing that up to $400,000.

Related: Penticton Fire looking at more wildfire equipment

Council added $100,000 toward planning and analysis for the Skaha Lake Marina, which the city had a now-cancelled deal with Trio Marine Group to refurbish.

That is balanced out by an expected $100,000 in extra revenue from recycling.

The addition of a bylaw officer is also expected to cost $40,000, but the city also expects bylaw revenue to add another $40,000 to the city’s coffers next year.

Council also added $25,000 to its arts reserve, on top of the $50,000 budgeted by staff, meaning a total of $75,000 going into the reserve next year.

Related: City adding five more cops by 2022

Beyond the grant to the YES Project, the council added an additional $32,819 toward civic grants on top of the budget.

“This has been the most rewarding (budget),” Sentes said, citing her nine-year career on council so far. “It has flowed, it has been less confrontational, less frustrating, and as we look at this now, some of those things that we’re embarking on are truly remarkable.”

She pointed to the YES Project and revitalizing the downtown areas as examples of the city’s achievements in the budget.

City council will be given an overview of the budget in a later meeting, and will also decide the business tax multiplier at a later meeting.

Related: Budget talks kick off for the City of Penticton

The business tax multiplier applies a higher tax rate to properties owned by businesses, with the intent of giving homeowners, who do not profit from their property, a break.

Though for years the city has lowered the business tax multiplier, putting a freeze on the rate for the 2017 budget, staff suggested a potential hike to the multiplier next year.

Currently, the multiplier is at 1.58 times the regular rate for businesses, which staff suggested could remain in place as an option. The other two options were to raise the multiplier to 1.8 or to two.

According to the staff report, while the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses suggests cities do not go higher than a multiplier of two, the average in the Okanagan is at 2.3.


@dustinrgodfrey

dustin.godfrey@pentictonwesternnews.com

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