Kamloops Chamber of Commerce is calling on council to proceed with caution, as it heads back into budget talks. The city's preliminary property tax increase is 4.89 per cent, due to a new RCMP contract, the COVID-19 pandemic and rising operations and inflation costs.
Chamber executive director Acacia Pangilinan said a large portion of the proposed tax increase is outside of the city’s control and communities across British Columbia are facing similar challenges.
However, she said the provisional increase does not yet include supplemental budget items that may or may not be approved by council and she urged “prudence,” adding some items could potentially be pushed off to future years.
“What we’re hoping is that going into the supplemental budget items is that the city really consider or try to stay as close to that 4.89 as possible,” Pangilinan said. “That list is likely going to have a lot of nice-to-haves over things that are really critical for us right now.”
Last year, the city’s property tax increase was one per cent. Pangilinan said members appreciated that during a difficult year but said businesses continue to feel financial pressures. She said she recently received notification of businesses that may be closing in the near future. She could not elaborate but noted the Chamber will be looking into the “nail in the coffin.” This year, businesses have taken on additional costs for employee sick days. Others continue to be shuttered during the pandemic.
The city’s corporate services director, Kathy Humphrey, said supplemental budget items will go to a committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 8 but details should be released to the public by the end of this month. One supplementary budget item previously reported on by Kamloops This Week is $75,000 to $100,000 for a temporary equity, diversity and inclusion worker, who would train staff and implement initiatives.
Pangilinan said the Chamber will be reviewing the supplemental items and speaking to members about their thoughts.