Property taxes will rise less than one per cent, an additional $20.72 for the average household ($469,000 assessed value).
During a lengthy budget meeting on Tuesday, council approved all but two of 15 supplemental items, bumping the tax hike from .27 per cent to .93 per cent.
Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said it is the lowest tax increase in more than a decade.
“Unusual times require unusual actions,” he said.
Six new staff were approved: two firefighters ($200,000; .17 per cent tax implication), an RCMP crime analyst ($97,000; .08 per cent), two parks staff ($169,000; .06 per cent) and an archaeologist ($100,000; no tax implication).
Christian described positions as “critical.” The analyst provides data to inform policy and policing, while parks staff protect increasingly utilized outdoor space.
Meanwhile, the city spent, on average, $600,000 per year on archaeological consulting over the past three years.
An in-house archaeologist will result in savings. Council voted unanimously to approve all of the new positions, totalling more than a half-million dollars.
Also approved were $750,000 from the city’s community safety reserve to plan an expansion of the RCMP’s Battle Street detachment and 37 pedestrian crossing upgrades, half-a-million dollars annually for several years. Work will begin this year.
KTW previously reported that all supplementals, if approved, would result in a tax hike of about a half per cent increase.
On Tuesday, council decided to split funding of the crossings — half from taxation and half from community works funds. Coun. Mike O’Reilly was opposed, with the remaining eight on council voting in favour.
Meanwhile, Coun. Denis Walsh voted against earmarking funds over multiple years for boat launch improvements.
Walsh suggested review of Pioneer Park as an appropriate place for a boat launch. An amendment by him to delete funding for improvements to that boat launch failed.
Earmarking of funds for a protective services training facility in coming years, at a cost of $8 million, was also dismissed.
Staff had said most of the costs would be offset by cost savings from RCMP currently travelling to the Lower Mainland for mandatory training, as well revenue collected from other groups in the area to use the facility (15,000 hours of required training identified).
Coun. Arjun Singh, however, said he wanted a better business plan before council put its weight behind the idea and put forth a motion to reject the supplemental item, which passed with support from councillors Dale Bass, Sadie Hunter, Kathy Sinclair and Walsh.
Singh said he wanted staff to continue looking into it in principle, but without funding allocation. Walsh questioned whether the city would pay off the facility before it would need replacing. Bass suggested the money would go a long way to improve the Car 40 program, which pairs mental-health staff with police and responds to emergent mental health calls.
Council also voted to spend $100,000 to replenish its BC Energy Step Code incentive program, $40,000 on mats to improve accessibility at events and the outdoors, $33,000 for new service agreements with community groups and $20,000 on electric bicycles for community services (formerly bylaws) staff.