KAMLOOPS - Kamloops homeowners can expect to see their property taxes rise by about 2.7 per cent this year.
That means an additional $65 a year for the average homeowner in 2017. City finance director Katherine Humphrey says most of the tax increase is due to contracts and obligations.
“It’s not a lot of extra things the city’s adding on, it’s mostly just keeping what we’re doing and the added cost of doing them,” Humbphey says. “You’ve got management, CUPE, firefighters' wages, RCMP wages, increases in transit, increases in hydro, increases in natural gas.”
These increases added around $4 million to the budget, while the property tax hike is only expected to bring in $1 million.
City council looked to other funding sources for supplemental items during its budget meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 21. The city is turning to its various reserves to bring down the expected tax increase to 2.67 per cent from an initial estimate of 3.09 per cent.
Only two requested items were cut. Plans for a porta-potty pilot program and public drinking fountains won’t be funded. Rock face work on Ord Road has been put on hold while the city discusses the route of a pipeline expansion with Kinder Morgan.
More than $1 million in maintenance work on the Sandman Arena, upgrades to the new North Shore police office and traffic light improvements were all approved. Plans for a skate park in Rayleigh are also going forward.
Only two projects were at or above $1 million in cost. Humphrey says that between the low cost projects on the supplemental budget and use of reserves this year the property tax increase is above the city’s 10 year average of 2.12 per cent, but similar to other communities. Last year’s increase was 3.4 per cent.
The city’s gaming reserve, community works fund and a surplus from the budget last year are being used this year to help offset city tax hikes.
While the budget items are set, council still needs to discuss the rates for the different tax categories. Last year the city shifted some of Kamloops’ heavy industry tax burden on to homeowners after lobbying from Domtar which operates the pulp mill, Tolko Industries and Lafarge Canada Inc. Lafarge closed their plant later in 2016, but still pays taxes on the site.
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