Penticton city council wrapped up 2020 budget discussions on Dec. 12 after three full days of deliberating. Council voted to approve the staff recommended 2.9 per cent tax increase and an increase to the business tax multiplier. (Photo from Google Maps)

Penticton council approves 2.9 per cent tax increase in 2020 budget

Council will vote in the new budget at an upcoming meeting in the new year

After three days of deliberating, Penticton city council went with the staff recommendation and approved a 2.9 per cent tax hike in the 2020 budget.

Council was in budget discussions from Dec. 10 to 12, breaking the budget down by each city department on day one, municipal grants and asset management on day two, and a recap and final decisions on the last day.

This increase amounts to an additional $73 per year for a residence valued at $500,000 and $870 per year for business properties valued at $1.18 million.

Council also went with the staff recommendation to increase the city’s business tax multiplier to 1.83 in 2020, and then 1.91 in 2021, to the dismay of the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, who issued a statement against the hike on the last day of discussions.

READ MORE: Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce concerned about proposed business tax hike

The increase leaves the tax multiplier below the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s recommendation of a no more than two per cent, while the average in the Okanagan Valley was at 2.28 per cent in February 2019.

Mayor John Vassilaki defended the increase, stating it was meant to give residential property owners a break.

The city is also putting $3.9 million toward its current debt of $31 million in 2019.

During the deliberations, council also had to make some tough calls and deny about 55 per cent of applications received for municipal grants.

City staff said the city saw an increase in the funding amount requested through applications this year, with 43 applicants seeking $993,000 in total.

READ MORE: Penticton city council forced to make tough calls with grant applications

Altogether, city council doled out $507,000 through municipal grants, while denying $457,000 in other requests.

Council will vote in the 2020 budget at a meeting in the new year.

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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