CENTRAL OKANAGAN - West Kelowna is continuing its history of tight property tax increases in 2018. Kelowna, not so much.
West Kelowna councillors got a first look yesterday at the 2018 buget which included a property tax increase of three per cent, the same as the last two years.
On the other side of the lake, the urgent need for more firefighters and another fire engine has produced a request of 3.59 per cent, still relatively tight compared to last year’s 4.1 per cent when Kelowna needed more police and bylaw officers.
West Kelowna hasn’t asked for more than a three per cent property tax increase since 2008, the year after the community incorporated, although councillors are not bound by anything other than their conscience.
“Council can always make changes to the budget which increases the rate, but this council has historically not done that, instead choosing to lower the rates if possible,” West Kelowna Communications officer Kirsten Jones said.
Any surplus funds (there’s $660,000 in 2018) can be directed by West Kelowna council to increase reserves, fund individual projects or lower the property tax increase.
Kelowna, on the other hand, has for the last two years been quite willing to breach the three per cent threshold, setting increases of 4.11 per cent in 2016 and 3.2 in 2015.
City manager Ron Mattiussi has publicly argued against using a formula or marking property tax increases against inflation, saying it simply saddles future councils and taxpayers with bigger bills as aging infrastructure and equipment requires replacement.
Both cities are reporting increased revenue from construction permits and development cost charges.
Kelowna councillors will go through a detailed breakdown of the 2018 budget tomorrow, December, 14, during an all-day session at Kelowna city hall beginning at 9 a.m.
West Kelowna councillors will consider the details of the 2018 budget in mid-January. Both cities must adopt a final budget by the end of April, 2018.
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