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Safety-related costs lead to bump in Vernon taxes

FILE PHOTO: Vernon RCMP Insp. Gord Stewart pictured at a Nov. 14, 2017 meeting before Vernon City Council.
November 30, 2017 - 2:30 PM

VERNON - Vernon taxpayers will see a jump in property taxes next year due to some big ticket items approved by council.

Mayor and council approved a number of expenditures today, Nov. 30, including more than $1 million for six new police officers and more than $1 million in equipment for Vernon Fire and Rescue Services, such as a new fire engine and ladder truck. 

The actual tax increase comes out at roughly five per cent, but council says it will be offset by an anticipated transfer of local parks from the regional district to the city, bringing it down to 3.98 per cent. 

“I’m not happy that we couldn’t have got it down to below five per cent,” Coun. Bob Spiers says. “But with the North Okanagan Regional District offset, it’s better than it was.”

He says the increase, which includes 1.9 per cent for infrastructure upgrades specifically, could have been even higher, but council chose to draw about $500,000 from reserves to lessen the burden on taxpayers.

“You don’t like taxes to spike like that so if you’ve got the money in reserves… and remember the reserves basically come from the taxpayer. They’re money that was taken from past taxpayers so let’s use them.”

Coun. Catherine Lord says she’s happy with the end result, and actually thought the tax increase was going to be higher due to the impact of the six new police officers.

“We worked very hard on it,” Lord says. 

She says the added policing costs are significant, but justified. 

"I think the safety impression out in the community really requires that we beef that up,” she says. 

The budget also includes new equipment for the fire department and funding for the development of a new lake front park, and other lake accesses, on Okanagan Lake.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 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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