2021 final tax increase approved at 4.04 per cent
Kelowna City Council approved the final 2021 Financial Plan on Monday, April 26. An overall tax demand increase of 4.04 per cent was set.
A 4.04 per cent increase means an $85 increase, or approximately $7 per month, for the City portion on an average residential property tax bill in Kelowna. City taxes are only one portion of a property tax bill, which also includes other amounts the City collects on behalf of the Province, the Regional District, school and library levies.
“The 2021 final budget promotes stability, ongoing responsible fiscal management and maintains continuity in providing the essential services that our residents expect from us while making sure we are well positioned for recovery and growth,” said Kevin Hughes, Manager, Corporate Financial Planning. “The projects and initiatives funded through the budget are a reflection of how we are taking action to advance the community’s Imagine Kelowna vision and deliver on Council’s priorities while we continue to navigate outcomes of the pandemic.”
The City’s gross tax demand budget is $157.7 million. General municipal taxation in 2021 will account for 28 per cent of the City’s total revenue. As a financially resourceful municipality, the City’s other revenue sources includes grants, reserves and user fees. In the 2020 Citizen Survey, 79 per cent of residents shared they receive good value for their municipal tax dollars and the majority, 91 per cent, say they are satisfied with the overall level and quality of services provided by the City.
The City received $7.9 million as a Safe Restart Grant from the federal and provincial government in 2020. “The pandemic has had a significant effect on revenues from gaming, development, not to mention on one of our most significant economic drivers, the Kelowna International Airport,” said Hughes. “As a result, we allocated much of the stimulus dollars received in 2020 to these areas; $2.5 million for 2020 and the remaining in 2021.”
The Kelowna Regional Transit System also received a Safe Restart Grant for $7.3 million in late 2020. The City’s portion of this grant is $5.9 million with the balance distributed amongst the regional transit partners. These funds will help cover the costs of lost revenue and additional expenses to improve safety and comfort for transit staff and customers.
Each year, Council sets the taxation requirement after reviewing the Financial Plan to determine which projects to fund and which projects to defer or cancel, balancing the community’s interest in maintaining existing levels of services while planning for significant infrastructure needs. This year, Council had the added challenge of considering the economic fallouts from the COVID-19 health crisis while adopting a budget that balances setting a reasonable tax rate and delivering services expected by residents and businesses.
For 19 years, the City has received the annual Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, and most recently for the 2020 Budget. Presented by the Government Finance Officers Association, the award recognizes the City’s achievement in meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting. Residents will receive their property tax notices in late May. Property taxes are due by July 2 and there is a legislated, non-discretionary penalty of 10 per cent for late payments. Property owners are reminded that the Home Owner Grant program is now provided through the Province of BC. To apply for a retroactive or new grant visit www.gov.bc.ca/homeownergrant.
For more information about the City budget and to view the 2021 Financial Plan, visit kelowna.ca/budget.