Council sets provisional 3.6 per cent tax rate for 2018 Budget
Kelowna City Council reviewed the 2018 Financial Plan submitted by staff, setting a provisional tax increase of 3.6 per cent after a full day of deliberations today. The final budget and tax rate will be presented to City Council in late April 2018.
A 3.6 per cent increase translates, on average, to a $70 increase on a City of Kelowna property tax bill (based on an average home assessed at $639,720). Taxation represents 37 per cent of the City’s revenue, with other sources coming from reserves, grants, and fees and charges.
“This year’s budget represents the City’s investments in safety, transportation, enhancing public green spaces and planning for a sustainable future,” says Genelle Davidson, Financial Services Divisional Director. “Each year we face the challenge of presenting a balanced budget that involves making difficult decisions. As a growing city, our goal is to look at the big picture, a vision for the future, while ensuring we meet the current and ongoing needs of Kelowna residents.”
Requests this year prioritize maintaining operations (52 per cent) and renewing capital assets such as existing City buildings and infrastructure (36 per cent), over growth and new investments. Following the full day of deliberations, Council moved a few Priority 2 requests to Priority 1, and changed funding sources away from taxation to reserves. Council also requested that City staff present improvement costs for Rutland Centennial Park in January for consideration prior to the final budget in April 2018.
Safety remains at the forefront of City priorities. The addition of 16 frontline emergency personnel (12 career firefighters and four RCMP members) for nearly $1.2M highlights this year’s investments in resources to keep our city safe. An additional $1.16M in capital requests is included for the temporary conversion of the Glenmore Firehall No. 8 to a professional firehall and the addition of a fire engine with equipment.
This year’s budget also reflects investments in multi-use corridors to improve and extend balanced, active transportation networks. Of the $16.7M transportation capital requests, less than a quarter will come from taxes.
Notable 2018 projects include the $2.1M Ethel Active Transportation Corridor Phase 4, $500,000 for sidewalk construction on Hollywood Road in Rutland, $754,000 for the Rutland Transit Exchange, $1.5M for a UBCO pedestrian/cycling bridge and $70,000 for planning of a high-profile pedestrian overpass connecting Central Green to downtown.
Planning for the unexpected, funding of the City’s $3.3M recovery costs portion associated with the unprecedented 2017 Kelowna floods will be paid with $2.1M from surplus and $1.2M from funds previously allocated to future City Hall renovations. The provincial government has committed to funding 80 per cent of the eligible $10.7M in recovery cost.
City staff had initially proposed a tax increase of 3.59 per cent at the Monday, Dec. 11 Council meeting. Council sets the provisional tax rate requirement after reviewing the 2018 Financial Plan to determine which projects to fund and which projects to defer or cancel. The prepared provisional budget and Council’s decisions aim to balance the community’s interest in maintaining existing levels of services while planning for significant infrastructure needs.
To review the 2018 Financial Plan, subscribe for e-updates and for more information about the City of Kelowna budget, visit kelowna.ca/budget.