Kamloops council has decided the fate of 13 supplemental budget items and city staff have now determined the city’s final provisional tax rate: 2.96 per cent.
For owners of average-assessed properties — which is $403,000 — that rate means an increase of $62 on their annual tax bill, an amount Mayor Ken Christian said council should be proud of achieving.
“That’s a pretty good number in 2019,” Christian said.
“I know that there are people in our community who will not accept that figure, but I think council has done a very good job getting us to this stage.”
The supplemental expenditures (requests brought forward by staff and the community) approved by council include funding for:
• hiring an additional full-time building inspector;
• removing derelict buildings at Tournament Capital Ranch;
• creating an asset management fund;
• reviewing boat launches in the city;
• building a Kamloops Fire Rescue training centre;
• creating and developing a site plan for a cultural centre that will open in the former Stuart Wood elementary downtown.
• a parking lot for Singh Street Bowl;
• an additional 3,000 hours of transit service;
• an acceleration of active transport projects;
• an RCMP training facility and gun range;
• wayfinding signs for downtown;
• a new park on McArthur Island, which will include a nature area and a disc golf course.
Additionally, Westsyde Neighbourhood Centre (Westsyde elementary) user groups had sought $60,000 to upgrade an outbuilding in Westsyde Centennial Park, but at the recommendation of city staff to wait until it was confirmed user groups would need to relocate, council voted to deny the funding.
Debate centred around the creation of an asset management plan, the expansion of transit hours and funding for site design at the former Stuart Wood elementary, which is to become a cultural centre.
Denis Walsh was the only councillor to oppose an additional $200,000 to create a site plan for a cultural centre at the former Stuart Wood elementary.
“We haven’t been given the OK by the province to do this yet. I think we should wait until the project is actually approved,” he said, also noting the cost of the item.
Christian said senior governments want projects that are ready to go — and sometimes repurposing buildings can be more expensive.
Staff said an asset management plan would allow the city to accumulate funding to tend to its capital assets, for projects such as roof repairs and necessary work at Sandman Centre and city hall.
Coun. Dieter Dudy called the fund a “no-brainer” and said it’s no different from what a homeowner might do to pay for upkeep.
The additional asset management plan tax, a 0.5 per cent increase each year for at least 10 years, will net the city $36.9 million before any return on investment.
Council also voted to approve a 0.5 per cent tax rate increase that will allow for an additional 3,000 hours of transit.
Development director Marvin Kwiatkowski said everything is pointing toward an increased use of transit, noting more availability is a common request.
The approval will mean an additional $200,000 spent.
CAO David Trawin said that even with the increase, there still aren’t enough hours to fulfil the city’s transit master plan.
The new tax rates will need to be approved by council by April 16.