January 19, 2016 - 6:30 PM
KAMLOOPS - Homeowners can expect to pay an additional $36 on average for their property taxes in 2016, based on preliminary figures.
Kamloops city council met this morning, Jan. 19, to discuss the additional requests for the 2016 budget. Those requests put Kamloops taxpayers on the verge of a 2.04 per cent increase on property taxes this year. That translates to about $36 on the average house priced at about $350,000.
Council did not make any decisions at this meeting but were given the opportunity to ask questions.
The biggest request came from city staff, who are looking for approval for $2.2 million in storm infrastructure upgrades. Staff pointed to the brief but intense rain storms that can cause damage if the city system cannot handle the deluge. A request for a new emergency generator, costing about $350,000, was also made. The generator would be used for the Public Works Centre during power outages, allowing the centre to backup data and provide a refuelling location for vehicles.
Much of the conversation at today’s meeting was centred on parks and recreation projects, including a $50,000 study looking at a new city ice surface following the 2015 closure of the Ice Box arena and maintenance at Riverside Park after major events such as Ribfest or Canada Day. Rental fees for the park and fees for rink usage were discussed as possible ways to offset costs.
A community request was also made to add pickleball courts and improve the tennis courts at Riverside Park.
With the city set to take over the property in September, the future of Stuart Woods Elementary was opened up as well. While city staff provided costs associated with bare minimum maintenance of the building, councillors say the would like to see a plan for filling the space before it comes to that. The province will also get a say in what the building is used for because it is designated as a school.
The meeting was to get information to council prior to a public open house slated for Feb. 16. Council will deliberate after that and the budget will be finalized in April.
Property taxes are currently pegged at an average of $2,866 in Kamloops, below the provincial average of $3,105. An increase to utilities has already been approved, with the average homeowner set to pay an additional $20 per year starting this year.
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