Expect property-tax hike in 2.5 per cent range
Every year around this time, city council does a dance, but this jive has nothing do with letting loose and having fun.
It’s time for council to talk budget and preliminary estimates have residents looking at a 4.7 per cent tax increase in 2012.
That would work out to an additional $75 for the owner of an average-assessed home in Kamloops.
The 4.7 per cent is expected to make up for a $3.9-million shortfall in the city’s general fund, which has grown, in part, from contract obligations.
The city will be paying out $848,000 more for its RCMP contract and $1.6 million in wage increases to its employees, along with a transit contract hike worth $651,000.
However, Mayor Peter Milobar cautioned the tax-hike figure isn’t likely to stick and will likely get cut in half.
City council has yet to tackle a list of supplementary budget items, which usually comes forward in January.
Nor do the preliminary numbers take into account the city’s revenue, which won’t likely be known until the spring.
Milobar expects the tax hike to be whittled down to the range of two to 2.25 per cent.
But, he is predicting a tough haul when council gets down to major discussions, noting he isn’t hearing residents calling for cuts in police and transit service.
“It’s a case of trying to balance out those priorities and figuring what’s palatable for people,” Milobar said.
For the last few years, the tax increase has hovered in the two-per-cent range.
The next step in the budget process is for city council to review the city administration operating and five-year capital plans, starting in January.
Council will also decide on the budget public-consultation process.
In past years, the city has scheduled public meetings at Interior Savings Centre to give residents a chance to weigh in on some of the supplemental items in the budget.
The final budget won’t likely be approved until May.