Summerland council considers taxes, spending and debt levels

Summerland council considers taxes, spending and debt levels

Budget process began in September, with adoption expected in May

Members of Summerland’s municipal council and municipal staff are working through the details of the 2019 budget, which will be completed this spring.

David Svetlichny, director of finance for the municipality, said the process is a lengthy one which began in September.

Last year’s budget was around $15.4 million, with $8.6 million coming from taxation.

Svetlichny said staff will bring forward a status quo budget. This budget will include funding commitments and increases beyond council’s control, such as negotiated wage increases.

Once this is completed, other budget items will be considered.

“There’s quite a lot of discussion at all levels,” he said.

Spending, debt levels and taxation will all be considered.

Svetlichny said every one per cent increase in property taxes means an additional $86,000 for the municipality.

While this amount seems significant, the costs of municipal projects can be considerable. Svetlichny said the cost of a single road project ranges from the hundreds of thousands to the millions of dollars.

Linda Tynan, chief administrative officer for the municipality, said this year’s budget is the first for the current council. The council members were elected in October and will serve a four-year term.

Tynan said some large items will likely be discussed during the budget process. These include a roads strategy, a parks and recreation master plan and the aging aquatic centre.

“There are lots of bigger-picture items that will be discussed during the budget process,” she said, but added that these discussions will not necessarily result in council taking on new projects.

In addition, she said there are some pending items where council and municipal staff are waiting before they can proceed.

The budget timeline, set out at the last municipal council meeting, calls for an open house on the proposed budget on Wednesday, April 3, with the five-year financial plan coming before council on Monday, April 8.

The financial plan is expected to be adopted at a special meeting of council on Wednesday, April 10. The tax rates bylaw is expected to come before council on Monday, April 23 with adoption at the May 13 meeting.