Preliminary budget estimate: $92 per household tax hike
It's shaping up to be a long and expensive haul for Kamloops city council as it works through the 2012 budget.
The preliminary budget estimate, which was revealed at city council chambers on Tuesday, Feb. 14, shows a 5.7 per cent property-tax increase for this year, including an additional 1.3 per cent in supplementary items.
That number is to make up for a $4.7-million budget shortfall.
The 5.7 per cent increase would be equal to an extra $92 being paid by owners of an average-assessed home in Kamloops, with a value of $344,000.
Specifically, the city has to pay an extra $1.6 million for employee salaries and benefits, $848,982 for RCMP-contract increases, $651,000 for transit-contract increases and $432,000 for the new fire hall in Aberdeen.
Among the operating supplemental-budget items is a request for $50,000 for legal and consultant fees to deal with the proposed Ajax mine project and $223,000 for increased transit service, which would begin in September if approved.
Other items include $100,000 for a downtown parking study and $150,000 for special-event funding, more specifically to celebrate they city's 200-year history.
The parking study did raise the eyebrows of some councillors who questioned the expense.
Coun. Tina Lange said the city has spent enough money studying the issue and was hopeful a parking committee made up of downtown businesses would bring back sufficient answers.
Supplemental capital projects on the list include $80,000 each to replace the roof and install new bathrooms at the McArthur Island Youth Centre, another $150,000 for stair aids at Interior Savings Centre, $35,000 for a public produce demonstration garden and $40,000 for bus-stop upgrades.
The total list of supplementary items comes to $1.27 million, for a tax increase of 1.53 per cent.
The numbers don't yet reflect any surplus the city might be carrying from last year, as those numbers aren't usually known until April.
City council will decide which supplementary items to keep in April, following public budget-consultation meetings scheduled for later this month.
Mayor Peter Milobar has stated he hoped the tax increase would be in the two per cent range.
Other numbers coming from the preliminary budget show the city is carrying $83 million in long-term debt, while the average property-tax increase in Kamloops in the last 10 years has been 2.13 per cent.