The City of Kamloops needs $7 million more than last year in order to balance the 2023 budget.
That equates a 5.6 per cent increase in needed revenue — an early gauge of next year’s tax increase — for the city to maintain the same service levels as this year.
City council was shown the numbers, department overviews and financial changes and invited to give budget suggestions during a committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday.
The gap means the city will need to collect $133 million in property taxes in 2023, up from $126 million in 2022.
Finance director Kathy Humphrey told KTW a number of items make up the added $7 million cost, including funding for asset management — the city has raised the budget a half per cent the past four years for that — climate action initiatives, wage increases and added RCMP officers and police pay.
Humphrey said there are significant increases in the costs of goods and materials in the budget, as well, noting the cost of line paint has risen by more than the inflation rate, which is between seven and eight per cent through October.
“All of those things are really services we have to provide. We can’t go without maintaining the roads. People complain when we have potholes or no lines and the cost of doing those things is just higher,” Humphrey said.
She said the $7 million figure and the 5.6 per cent tax increase linked to the number are slightly higher than in years past, noting 2022’s property tax hike was finalized at 4.9 per cent.
“That’s the starting point for the tax increase this year,” Humphrey said of the 5.6 per cent, noting axing supplemental budget items, increasing user fees and/or reducing services as ways in which council could reduce a tax rate.
Among the biggest increase making up that $7 million is $1.87 million in staff wage increases, $1.3 million in RCMP contract raises and $1.27 million in inflationary costs for items such as contracted services, fleet operations and materials and supplies.
Generally, a one per cent increase in property taxes equates to a $1.3 million increase in revenue, costing the owner of the average assessed home about $25 more per year on their property taxes, Humphrey said.
The annual property tax increase in Kamloops this century has been in the two to three per cent range and, during COVID-19, dipped below one per cent, Humphrey said.
On Wednesday, the City of Kamloops will launch a budget engagement page on its website and a public budget meeting will be held in the first quarter of 2023, while supplemental budget items will be considered next February.
The budget will be finalized and adopted in the spring of 2023.
Amongst the feedback from council on Tuesday, Coun. Stephen Karpuk asked about earmarking a portion of the budget increase for future capital projects, which Humphrey affirmed. Coun. Dale Bass asked about the pressure of budgeting for future police and firefighters, which Humphrey said the city plans for, adding it’s not an issue via Kamloops’ taxation unlike smaller communities which may experience population fluctuations. Coun. Kelly Hall inquired into the rate of increase on management pay, which Humphrey said is tied to the current CUPE staff contract, which provides a two per cent increase in 2023. That contract also expires at the end of next year.
All of council except Coun. Katie Neutaeter were in attendance for the meeting.
—This story was updated at 4:43 p.m. with questions from council during Tuesday's committee meeting