Expenses predicted to cost Vernon an extra $1.7 million next year | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Expenses predicted to cost Vernon an extra $1.7 million next year

Vernon City Hall
August 14, 2018 - 5:30 PM

VERNON - Dipping into an RCMP reserve fund was one suggestion by city staff to cover additional expenditures predicted to cost the city an extra $1.7 million in 2019.

The report 2019 Budget Challenges was presented by city staff at Vernon council's Aug.13 meeting and predicts a potential increase in the city's operating budget of $2,078,288, which could translate as a 5.47 per cent tax increase for residents, although the report lists several ways to reduce the tax burden. Among the solutions to help reduce the expenditure, the report lists an expected $400,000 in tax from new developments which would reduce the total of additional expenditure to $1,678,288, a possible 4.41 per cent tax increase would be needed to cover the extra costs.

Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund said the report was one way of making the public aware of the city's financial position.

"We wanted to make this more public because there are some decisions made that will affect next year's council and it's not fair to leave your garbage for somebody else," said Mund.

City staff recommended in the report not to transfer any RCMP surplus to a reserve account, as the current RCMP reserve currency has almost $2.2 million sitting in it. Mund said one of the reasons the reserve fund was so high was that council increased spending by $1.1 million in January 2018 to pay for six new RCMP officers, although Mund said he couldn't confirm whether any new officers had been recruited.

The report shows the increase in expenses comes from a variety of things including a change in the law requiring the city to pay both Medical Services Plan and the new Employer Health Tax in 2019. Other increases include estimated union increases in pay, public transit expansion, the next council's increase in pay and Fire Rescue Services.

Mund said there were many ways the increased expenditure could be dealt with from reserved funds, and figures from a possible 2018 surplus wouldn't be known until early next year.

Mund pointed to the $300,000 saved by council's Aug. 13 decision to cut RCMP support costs to smaller outlying communities of Armstrong, Lumby and Falkland and others. Mund said Vernon taxpayers had been paying these support costs, which cover things like court liaison, and that wasn't fair to taxpayers. Mund said the province has said they will pick up the tab for the cost to these communities.

Mund - who hasn't publicly said whether he'll stand for mayor in this fall's election, said it was too early to speculate on how the additional expenditure would be covered and what decisions the new council would make.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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