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Osoyoos to hold special meeting on huge tax hike

Public backlash has been loud over the proposed 37% hike
Hundreds gathered for an informal town hall on Nov. 29 in Osoyoos to go over the dramatic tax hike currently set to hit in 2024. (Three60Fitness - Facebook)

The Town of Osoyoos will be holding a special meeting on Jan. 12 at the Sonora Community Centre focused on the 2024 budget and the attached 37 per cent tax hike.

After massive public backlash over one of the largest residential tax hikes ever seen and over 100 per cent hikes to water and sewer utility rates, the town council will be holding a public meeting on possible changes.

Between the increase to taxes and the increase to utilities, the combined tax bill for the average home in Osoyoos will go from $3,852.45 in 2023 to $5,366.49 in 2024 under the currently adopted budget.

Broken down, on the average residential property with a value of $720,535 the municipal tax rate is expected to reach $1,080.51 for 2024, up $295.56 from $784.95 in 2023 and utilities are expected to hit $824.40 a year for sewer costs, up $444.58 from the previous $379.82, while water costs are expected to hit an average of $1,133.39 a year, up $673.84 from $459.55.

The town says the cause of the increases, which were adopted in October 2023, is both increasing infrastructure costs and a history of keeping taxes low for the community.

“These issues have been developing for decades, and I’ve been in office for 13 months. This is an impossible situation,” said Coun. Johnny Cheong at a November meeting. “We have $60.5 [million], in water and sewer capital projects over the next five years, and that’s today’s quote. To put that in context, a one per cent increase in property taxes is just shy of $32,000.”

The backlash and dozens of people attending led to the cancellation of another meeting in November over a fireworks issue unrelated to the budget. An informal town hall saw hundreds come out to voice their concerns about the tax hikes and pitch possible changes.

Among the calls from the public to cut the hike was the request to have a new public meeting where more people could be allowed to attend, with claims that the previous budget meetings had limited the amount of people able to be present feedback. Residents also said the daytime meeting made it difficult to attend for those with jobs.

At the Dec. 12 council meeting, it was announced that there would be a special meeting at the Sonora Centre, as was called for by the public. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

Those who want to present at the meeting are asked to register before the start of the meeting at 4 p.m. by emailing or phoning the town hall at 250-495-6515.

Questions and comments can also be submitted via email or physically through the mail or dropped off at the Town of Osoyoos office at 8707 Main Street, PO Box 3010, Osoyoos, B.C., V0H 1V0.

READ MORE: Residents of Osoyoos come out to challenge council over tax hikes

A motion to rescind the adoption of the bylaw was also proposed at the Dec. 12 regular council meeting, where the special session was announced.

The motion to rescind has not yet been debated or passed by the council.

Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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