Tax increase planned

Property taxes in Summerland are expected to increase by two per cent this year in order to meet rising costs.

Property taxes in Summerland are expected to increase by two per cent this year in order to meet rising costs, but the biggest cost increase is for policing.

Presenting the preliminary budget figures at the municipal council meeting on Monday evening, municipal treasurer Ken Ostraat said the increase in policing costs alone accounts for around $90,000, or a 1.5 per cent property tax increase.

The cost increase does not come with an increase in service or police presence in Summerland.

Ostraat said the number of officers is based on the case load for police officers, not on the population of the community.

“Summerland has one of the lowest crime rates in the province,” he said.

Coun. Peter Waterman said the changes in the costs of RCMP services are the result of a new provincial contract.

“These were essentially costs we had no choice to deal with,” he said. “It’s a substantial hit in terms of our tax situation.”

Coun. Martin Van Alphen said the higher cost is for policing work, not for the police station which was officially opened in late July last year.

“It’s got nothing to do with our new RCMP building,” he said.

Ostraat added that other costs, such as increased pension costs and the costs of new equipment are also factors in the rising policing costs.

He said municipalities are contesting some of the additional expenses through the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

Summerland’s budget for 2013 is $11,065,329, according to the figures presented.

Protective services, including police, firefighting and ambulance service costs, represent the largest departmental expenditure for the municipality.

Recreational and cultural services account for $2,142,105. Transportation services are $1,630,851. Environmental health  services are $944,070 and environmental development services are $555,502. Public health and welfare services are $79,915. The cost of general government services is budgeted at $1,620,503.

Other costs include principal and interest debt charges, bank charges, capital expenditures and transfers to reserve funds.

Of the revenue, the majority will come from property taxes, with $6,938,901 to be collected. Grants in lieu of taxes, provincial government grants and other grants are expected to total $543,730. The municipality will receive $1,966,642 from the sales of services and rentals, $323,220 from licenses, permits and fines, $90,000 from penalties and interest on taxes and $95,000 from the return on investments.

Other revenues include a franchise amount of $120,000, transfers from various municipal funds and miscellaneous expenses.

For a property owner who had a tax bill of $2,000 before the homeowner grant in 2012, the tax increase will add another $20 to the total amount this year, Ostraat said.

The first three readings of the budget bylaw will be on April 8, with the final reading on April 22.