Kelowna Considers 4.4% Tax Hike

Next week, Kelowna Council will decide whether or not to approve a 4.4 percent increase of property taxes.

The hike would pay for new police officers and firefighters, as well as upgrades to aging infrastructure in the city. If approved, the average homeowner would pay an additional $88 on their property taxes.

"[We] always try to be competitive, compared to other municipalities in the province, on many fronts" said City Manager Doug Gilchrist. 

He notes that Kelowna's property taxes remain low relative to other cities despite consistent increases over the last five years.

"We're keenly aware that affordability is important for everyone in our province right now, and we think Kelowna is pretty attractive on that front."

The proposed increase can be broken down into two parts. A 2.45% general tax hike and a new 1.95% infrastructure levy.

A 2.45% general tax hike would pay for six new RCMP officers, eight firefighters, and 59 new municipal employees to maintain the quality of city services. 

The additional 1.95% infrastructure levy aims to maintain and upgrade aging roads and buildings in the city.

"I think the infrastructure component of that is quite critical" said Gilchrist. "People want our infrastructure to be renewed and maintained properly so that we have good roads to drive on, nice parks to walk through, and appropriate equipment in our facilities."

If council approves the hike, property taxes in Kelowna will have increased 20% in the last five years; well above the rate of inflation.

Gilchrist says rapidly growing construction costs are partially to blame.

Council will review the budget on Thursday, December 13th.