Summerland council votes to increase taxes

Municipal budget bylaw calls for taxes to rise 2.75 per cent

Summerland’s mayor and council have given first three readings to a bylaw increasing property taxes 2.75 per cent for this year.

The increase is made up of two components: an increase of 1.75 per cent for general operations and an increase of one per cent to reserve for future capital projects.

On Thursday, at a public information session, municipal staff outlined the budget and proposed tax increase.

The municipality’s general operating budget for this year is $15.3 million.

Property taxes, estimated at $8,913,800 for this year, cover 58 per cent of this amount. Residential property taxes account for 86.5 per cent of all property taxes collected by the municipality.

David Svetlichny, director of finance for the municipality, said the municipality’s electrical utility provides significant funding to the municipality.

“If we didn’t have the electrical utility, we’d have to raise another $500,000,” he said, adding that this amount would be equivalent to an additional 6.3 per cent property tax increase.

The remainder comes from sources including solid waste fees, grants, recreation services, reserve funds, surpluses and licenses permits and fines.

Linda Tynan, chief administrative officer for the municipality, said council priorities of good governance, investment in infrastructure, community engagement, stability and resiliency and a vibrant and livable community are considered when drafting the budget.

“It’s not as easy as you may think,” she said.

She added that the municipality will maintain all its present services.

“Council is not reducing any levels of service,” she said.

Svetlichny said planning the budget starts in late August or early September.

A public input process is required before the municipality may adopt its budget and financial plan.

Of the expenses, public works is the largest category, with a budget of $3,239,700 or 21 per cent of the budget.

Protective services, including policing and fire, are expected to cost $2,771,100 or 18 per cent of the budget.

Recreation and cultural services are allocated at $2,599,400 or 17 per cent.

General government costs total $1,710,500 while solid waste expenses are $1,674,600. The remainder of the budget expenses are for reserve funding, development services, debt servicing and cemetery expenses.

In addition to the property tax increase, Summerlanders will see increases in utility rates.

On Jan. 1, a five per cent increase in water rates and a five per cent increase in sewer rates both took effect. Electrical rates increased by 2.15 per cent in January.

For a property with an assessed value of $535,900, property taxes would increase from $1,390 to $1,446. Water rates, after the discount, would increase from $497 to $522 and sewer rates, after the discount, would increase from $322 to $388.

The overall impact would rise from $2,290 to $2,306, an increase of $97 annually or $8.08 a month.

The total tax bill will be higher than this amount, since the municipality also collects tax money for other the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, the Okanagan Regional Library and others.

The first three readings of the tax bylaw were adopted unanimously. Coun. Erin Carlson and Coun. Doug Holmes were not present at the council meeting on Monday.

The final reading, to adopt the bylaw, is anticipated in April.

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