City budget recommends property-tax hike

Kelowna city councillors will review a record provisional budget that recommends a 2.54-percent property-tax hike.

The $103 million budgetary tax demand that City Manager Ron Mattiussi will present to the council today increases municipal taxes for the average homeowner will pay $42 more in 2013 than last year, to $1,686.


After first receiving the 2013 provisional budget in Monday's regular meeting, councillors will look at it line by line in an all-day meeting Thursday at City Hall.


In his report, Mattiussi writes that the budget reflects slower economic growth and that expansion projects based on growth will have to be delayed.


Mattiussi estimates that tax revenue from new construction will be about $1.1 million, down about $1 million from the annual average from 2008 to 2012.


"The local economy is slowly showing signs of improving," Mattiussi wrote. "The construction sector has been especially impacted and a more lengthy recovery period is being predicted for that industry."


Other points to provisionary budget include:


-- The RCMP will gain four new officers, part of a plan to boost the detachment's numbers to 22 over four years. More are to be hired in 2014 and 2015.


-- Cost-cutting measures in 2012 will continue in 2013, including not filling some vacant city positions and reducing the frequency of street sweeping.


-- Residential property values in 2013 may dip by 3 percent from that of 2012. 


Mattiussi wrote that budget preparation is about being cognizant of the city's needs and  economic reality.


"My goal is to maintain existing core services while providing for the maintenance requirements of existing infrastructure," he wrote. "It's important to continue to provide services, infrastructure and other amenities consistent with Council priorities, but reflective of the current economic climate." 


John Sleeper


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