March 14, 2016 - 4:30 PM
NEED TO FINANCE LONG RANGE ASSET MANAGEMENT LEAVES COUNCIL TOUGH CHOICES
KELOWNA - Kelowna council will need to find the political courage next year, and possibly years beyond, to push through an even bigger property tax increase than 2016 or watch infrastructure start to crumble.
“That’s the hard choice we face,” mayor Colin Basran says of the financing required to maintain and add to the city’s $2.5 billion worth of infrastructure — everything from roads and sewers to recreation centres and bridges.
The city’s $1-billion draft 2030 infrastructure plan calls for a minimum investment of $12 million each year until then, with the need to add 40 per cent of all new taxation from population growth — an estimated $738,000 a year — for the duration of the plan.
Council hasn’t given over the new taxation money in several years but Basran says that has to change in 2017.
“If we don’t do this, we simply offload the problem to future councils and future taxpayers,” Basran adds.
Taking this year’s property tax increase of 4.1 per cent — already described as a bare bones budget by some — and adding 0.7 per cent is going to make some councillors uncomfortable, Basran predicts.
The city has just over $1 billion worth of top priority projects on the books for completion by 2030.
Half of that, $487 million, will be driven by population growth, another $387 million by need to replace or renew infrastructure and just under $200 million to add to existing service levels.
Another $500 million worth of projects languish on a secondary list, with hopes for infrastructure grants and funding from provincial and federal governments to push some of them onto the top priority list.
Infrastructure services manager Joel Shaw told councillors recently that without the annual increase from new taxation, the infrastructure plan could not be completed as it currently stands.
For more on City of Kelowna infrastructure.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016