City council recently got a look at supplemental budget items, with 11 requests on the table to support policing, improve accessibility, transportation and natural resource operations and expand pickleball facilities.
During a recent meeting, council heard from city staff who detailed at a high level the requests, before they go to the public for consultation later this month.
Each item will be decided upon individually by council, prior to the city finalizing the 2020 property tax rate.
City of Kamloops planning and procurement manager Dave Hallinan said if council approved all projects on the list, the estimated property tax increase would increase by .26 per cent, resulting in a hike this year of about three per cent.
Not all of the requests are recommended to be funded through taxation. The city will host a public budget meeting discussing supplemental budget items on Thursday, Feb. 20, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Valley First Lounge at Sandman Centre.
Three of the 11 supplemental budget requests are linked to the RCMP, including additional support staff, a study for detachment upgrades and talks of a future training centre.
Why the spending focus on police? Hallinan told KTW the policing costs come as a result of growth.
“It was just really an opportunity to look at how the operations have been running,” he said. “They just happened to come to the table.”
The city has put forward a business case for adding two administrative staff (accounts clerk and crime analyst) to support policing, which has grown over the years.
The city is obligated under its municipal policing agreement to provide support to the RCMP, by way of municipal staff, and it says current staffing levels are insufficient due to increased calls to police and pressure facing the Kamloops detachment.
Adding two staff would cost $165,000 in 2020 and the city proposes funding the new positions through taxation, resulting in an .08 per cent increase.
The city is also proposing to spend $750,000 on a study to upgrade the detachment, downtown at Battle Street and Sixth Avenue. The $8-million to $10-million project is proposed to address operational challenges and safety concerns and extend the life of the existing facility over time, rather than facing one large capital expenditure.
The detachment was built in 1990. In 2002, it housed 158 employees. By 2019, it had 194 staff. The building has received piecemeal renovations over the years and the city notes “significant need” to improve the current booking entry, main entry and forensic/evidence rooms.
Also needed: new and renovated office spaces, replacement of the main entry canopy and reinvention of the reception area, expanding the garage bays, relocating the gym to the second storey and reconfiguring the second floor to expand the men’s and women’s locker rooms.
The city proposes a three-to five-year design and renovation plan. The first phase, proposed this year, would be a study.
Hallinan said the city proposes funding the study out of a $14.5-million reserve fund. That money is typically earmarked for rainy-day funding, he explained, but it has been used for capital expenditures from time to time in the past.
INDOOR TRAINING SPACE
Meanwhile, another RCMP project is being proposed a few years down the road — a gun range and indoor training facility.
Currently, Kamloops and region RCMP officers travel to the Lower Mainland for firearms training at the Pacific Region Training Centre in Chilliwack.
The facility would cost $8.75 million to build, but the city expects the training facility would bring in $675,000 annually via anticipated revenue and avoided costs, in light of decreased travel.
The proposed warehouse-style training facility would tentatively be located adjacent to the Kamloops Fire Rescue training facility, which is in the city’s civic operations yard in the McGill Road industrial area, though it construction is not anticipated until possibly 2025.
OTHER BUDGET ITEMS
• The city is proposing projects to improve accessibility, including the purchase of reusable mobility mats that can be rolled out and installed at events like Music in the Park, as well as a series of pedestrian crossing upgrades over the next decade.
The mats, made from recycled polyester, could be used by pedestrians and those in wheelchairs, mobility scooters and strollers.
The cost would be $40,000, with $20,000 per year going forward, should the technology be successful.
Meanwhile, the pedestrian crossing upgrade program is proposed to improve 39 crossings in Kamloops over the next decade, at a total cost of $6.5 million. The city is asking for $150,000 in 2020 to create a strategy, with one to two crossings addressed in subsequent years, funded from the city’s existing active transportation budget.
• Expand transit by an extra 4,500 hours at a cost of $82,000 in 2020 and tax increase of .07 per cent;
• Pickleball court expansion, at a cost of $75,000, including $12,000 paid for by the pickleball community. Tennis courts at the west end of Riverside Park would be repurposed for pickleball. The city would pay the remaining $63,000 out of community works funding, which currently has $2.7 million.
• Boat launch repairs at Pioneer Park and McArthur Island, at a cost of $759,000;
• The addition of an arborist and national resource technician to improve the city’s tree canopy and support trail and park maintenance, at a cost of $168,000.
• Hiring of an in-house trades plumber, which would result in $12,000 in annual savings realized without having to pay for contract plumbing work.