Property taxes in Summerland will rise by 3.5 per cent this year.
Few will applaud this or any other tax increase, and some will argue that it would be possible for the municipality to tighten its belt and avoid an increase this year.
Still, in the long term, the increase makes sense.
The tax increase covers the increased costs of providing services to the municipality and it puts money aside for future reserves.
The budget for this year has expenditures of just under $37 million.
This money goes to the costs involved in providing the services Summerland delivers.
These costs include items such as garbage and recycling services, recreation and cultural services, protective services and Summerland’s water, sewer and electrical utilities.
Maintaining these services at present levels requires a tax increase since the cost of delivering the services has increased.
To avoid a tax increase, the municipality would have to cut back or eliminate some of the services it supplies.
Where would these cuts be made?
Would the taxpayers of Summerland be willing to go without park maintenance or the upkeep of other amenities within the community in order to avoid a tax increase?
Would Summerlanders prefer to go without the collection of garbage and recyclables, with each household responsible for hiring a private contractor to deliver this service? Would we as a community be willing to lose some of the recreational services we now enjoy?
Even if the community could support such cuts, money would still be needed for future reserves. There are some significant capital projects on the horizon, including replacing the aging Summerland Aquatic Centre.
If the municipality is able to prepare by putting some money aside now, less borrowing will be required in the future, and as a result, the debt servicing costs will be lower than if reserves are not set aside.
This is why a tax increase is necessary, even if it is not welcomed.
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