Preliminary 2021 budget approved with 4.04 % increase
Following today’s all-day preliminary 2021 budget deliberations, Kelowna City Council has approved a preliminary 4.04 per cent overall taxation demand increase.
A 4.04 per cent increase means an $85 increase, or approximately $7 per month, for the City portion on an average single-detached home 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.
“Our well-established financial principles and strategies continue to serve us well as we navigate the challenges and unexpected issues that arise due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ” said Kevin Hughes, Financial Planning Manager. “Council has approved the preliminary budget which prioritizes maintaining the essential services that our residents rely on us for daily and renewing existing assets as much as possible, while still keeping an eye on building for the future as we continue to experience significant growth in our community. Most budget requests, 60 per cent, are funded from sources other than taxation such as fees, reserves and grants.”
In the most recent 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 taxation impact in the 2021 budget is $157.6 million, which is an $8.7 million increase over last year. The anticipated $2.7 million in new construction revenue directly offsets taxation, as such, the net taxation increase impact ends up being $154.9 million, or a 4.04 per cent increase. Overall, taxation accounts for 40 per cent of the needed revenue for 2021. The City received $7.88 million in emergency funding through the BC Safe Restart Program, and has put 32 per cent ($2.5 million) to work to mitigate 2020 pandemic impacts with the balance being used to address some revenue shortfalls and emergency planning and response for 2021.
“Our budget process supports delivering results outlined in Council’s priorities, as well as advancing the community’s Imagine Kelowna vision,” said Hughes. “Making sure we can continue to provide essential services for our residents, enhance community safety, ensure a socially responsible and inclusive community, build vibrant neighbourhoods, take action on initiatives to protect our environment and improve how our residents and visitors get around our city are all reflected within the 2021 budget.”
Maintaining essential services and renewing existing assets represents the largest capital budget investment for 2021 at $33.4 million. This includes road resurfacing ($4.4 million), renewal of wastewater mains and facilities ($3.7 million), along with numerous park and facility improvements (Knox Mountain Park and City Park, City Hall, Downtown Parkades, Rutland Arena).
This year’s budget prioritizes public safety by bolstering our resources with 14 safety positions which, annualized in 2022, make for a $1.9 million investment. The 2021 safety positions include eight RCMP members and six civilan support staff. Community safety represents the largest net operating budget investment for 2021 at $43.6 million.
Parks, animated spaces and recreation opportunities make for vibrant and healthy neighbourhoods. In 2021, $12.7 million is being invested in parks acquisition, development and improvements for parks such as Pandosy Waterfront Park, Kerry Park, Tower Ranch Park, and others.
In addition to investments in essential services, safety and vibrant neighbourhoods, the 2021 budget includes:
- Investing almost $600,000 to support programs and initiatives to help address complex social issues so we can build on being a socially responsible and inclusive community. This includes extending support for the Journey Home Strategy to 2023, funding to review housing for those with complex needs and support for temporary outdoor sheltering sites.
- Taking action to address the impacts of climate change and protect our environment with almost $3 million to support Mill Creek flood protection efforts, introduce low-carbon initiatives, energy retrofits, establish GHG (greenhouse gas) modelling and hire a an environmental leader to review current policies and make recommendations to bolster current efforts.
- $1.9 million in new transportation capital expenditures to ensure our growing community can get around safely and have access to different transportation options. We will connect the Okanagan Rail Trail to Waterfront Park and expand active transportation corridors and bicycle networks.
City staff had proposed a 4.27 per cent overall taxation increase for Council’s consideration at the Dec. 10 public meeting. Council sets the preliminary tax increase requirement after reviewing which projects to fund, and which projects to defer or cancel. Carryover requests will be presented to Council in March and the final tax demand increase will be decided by Council in April 2021.
To review the 2021 Financial Plan, subscribe for budget e-updates and for more information about the City of Kelowna budget, visit kelowna.ca/budget.