PENTICTON - Penticton city council has found some savings following three days of budget discussions this week.
Chief financial officer Jim Bauer says council arrived at a 4.42 per cent projected property tax increase following completion of a review of grant applications on Thursday, Feb. 23, but further discussions reduced the proposed increase to 4.36 per cent. Council entered budget discussions with a five per cent tax hike anticipated.
A 4.36 per cent property tax increase translate to about $86 a year for the owner of an average house in the community valued at about $369,000.
Council voted to approve the increase, with Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, Coun. Helena Konanz and Coun. Andre Martin opposed.
Bauer says further deliberations yesterday afternoon saw the addition of a Sunday bus route reduced in estimated cost from $11,600 to $4,000 after transit officials indicated the service wouldn't begin until September.
Revenue projections from casino income were also reevaluated, adding a further $20,000 to the budget, making up for some of the shortfall coming from council’s attempts to cut $100,000 from the city’s grants program.
Bauer says council was seeking to reduce grant funding by $100,000, but were only able to cut $29,000. Part of the reason for that was due to widely varying views amongst councillors as to who and what should be funded.
Lengthy discussions ensued over whether to provide $600 to first time applicant Dino Bridge Club for parking passes before a resolution to deny the request was successful.
Coun. Andre Martin reminded council several times during the discussions that it was council’s job to “keep chiselling away at $100,000," (worth of grant funding), at one point saying “We’re beating a dead horse here. Last year we took steps to reduce funding by one third. I support reducing by one third."
Grant funding was denied to the Okanagan Symphony, while the Meadowlark Festival had its funding cut from $3,500 to $1,750.
The Sunshine Cabaret Summer Concert Series was also cut from $15,850 to $9,050, as was Penticton Jazz Festival funding, from $12,333 last year to $9,640 this year.
Lengthy discussions also took place over funding for Miss Penticton Royalty, with Coun. Helena Konanz noting that with number of contestants reduced this year, funding should also be reduced, a sentiment echoed by Coun. Andre Martin. A motion to reduce funding from $9.150 to $7,500 failed before council accepted the original request of $9,150.
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