April 14, 2015 - 1:47 PM
KAMLOOPS - After hours of discussion council has finally come to an agreement on the 2015 budget and property owners in Kamloops can expect to pay an average of $34 more this year.
Taxes will increase by 1.22 per cent, a little lower than last year's two per cent increase. Council started the meeting sitting at 2.1 per cent but were able to lower the overall burden on tax payers after a number of things were cut at the final budget meeting.
Four properties were identified as not qualifying for tax exemption, though they had previously been, which removed $71,400 from overall taxation and a B.C. Automobile Association reinventory project decreased the amount by another $850,000. Anticipated utilities revenue from growth is expected to hit $1.3 million this year, which will also give property owners a bit of a break on their tax bills.
The heavy industry mill rate was again frozen this year though, which adds $272,000 to the total required from taxation. Since Kamloops is well above the provincial average for heavy industry mill rates council debated lowering the heavy industry rate even more, but in the end the freeze was agreed upon for the benefit of the tax payer.
Last week councillors agreed to table three items for further discussion this week, and in the end all three remained in the budget.
Civic facility maintenance will stay in the taxation budget at a cost of $75,000. Both the Sheep Breeders building and upgrades to Rose Hill Park will also stay in the budget but will be funded out of the gaming fund.
The two gaming fund projects, coming in at $150,000 and $100,000, garned much debate among council members. With Coun. Marg Spina absent the vote on providing funds to upgrade the Sheep Breeders had council split evenly, though Coun. Arjun Singh agreed to change his vote in the name of 'budget discussion expediency.'
At the previous budget meeting council agreed to cut out $160,000 for additional RCMP and $100,000 earmarked for transit.
While the need for additional RCMP officers was not dismissed council decided the $160,000 needed for the hiring of new officers would not be taken from tax money, but rather out of a $4.5-million police reserve fund.
After B.C. Transit declared its province-wide flat budget, meaning no additional transit projects, the $100,000 previously allocated for increased service, set to begin this September, was instead put against the taxation increase.
The budget is set to be finalized the first week of May and residents will officially see the changes on their 2015 tax bills, which are due July 2.
The average property is estimated at $355,000 this year. The estimated increase of $34 is based solely on house value and does not take into account any increases on property assessments.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015