Kelowna council approves 2019 budget

Kelowna City Council approved the final 2019 Financial Plan on Monday, April 29. An overall tax demand increase of 4.1 per cent was set, which includes revising the infrastructure levy to 2.27 per cent and 1.83 per cent for the municipal tax demand.

The combined 4.1 per cent increase means the owner of a single-family home with an average assessed value of $684,450 in Kelowna will pay $2,072 in municipal taxes, an annual increase of $81.49 (or $6.79 per month or $1.56 a week).

Twenty-one new budget requests are included in final budget for emergent issues and to address demonstrated needs in the community.

“New construction revenue netted out higher than initially estimated last December which enabled the reduction of the total taxation demand by 0.33 per cent from what Council initially approved at Provisional budget,” said George King, Financial Planning Manager. “This allowed us to look at ways to adjust the financial plan so that more could be contributed to offset our infrastructure deficit for the long-term sustainability and growth of our city, while still providing good value to residents for their tax dollars.”

In addition to urgently needed repairs such as the ramp heaters at Chapman Parkade and dredging at the Cook Road boat launch, Final Budget items also reflect ongoing commitments to addressing social issues and crime – two top-of-mind issues for citizens as noted in the most recent Citizen Survey.

Investments in safety include the addition of an RCMP officer to participate in the Kelowna Outreach and Support Table (KOaST), bringing the total new officers added in 2019 to seven. Increased street lighting in the Agassiz Road area and more security services at City facilities, parks and public spaces will also be added.

A commitment to develop a social policy framework and to pilot a Lived Experience Peer Employment program will continue to help address the complexities of social issues. These build on earlier commitments made at Provisional Budget including land acquisition funding for affordable housing partnership opportunities.

The City’s net 2019 operating budget is $142.5 million. General municipal taxation accounts for 24 per cent of the City’s total revenue. In the most recent 2018 Citizen Survey, 79 per cent of residents said they receive good value for their taxes. As a financially resourceful municipality, the City’s other revenue sources includes grants, reserves and user fees.

Council sets the taxation requirement after reviewing the Financial Plan to determine which projects to fund and which projects to defer or cancel, balancing the community’s interest in maintaining existing levels of services while planning for significant infrastructure needs.

For 17 years, the City has received the annual Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, and most recently for the 2018 Budget. Presented by the Government Finance Officers Association, the award recognizes the City’s achievement in meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting.

Residents will receive their property tax notices in late May. The bill also includes amounts for other taxing authorities, including the Province, the Regional District and the Library.

For more information about the City budget and to view the 2019 Financial Plan, visit kelowna.ca/budget.