Budget, item by item

UPDATE: 3:20 p.m.

The City of Kelowna has settled in on a 2018 budget which includes an increase of 3.60 per cent. The provisional budget was laid out during day-long deliberations.

The increase is up marginally from the 3.59 per cent proposed by staff.

The new budget includes three items not previously in the budget totalling nearly $115,000. To offset that increase, council took $100,000 from the building reserve fund to replace taxation on two other projects.

More details to come.

UPDATE: 2:15 p.m.

As requested, city council has approved the addition of four new RCMP members, four data processing positions and a secretary.

Two of the new officers, when hired, would go to the bike patrol, one to the Police and Crisis Team, and one plainclothes investigator.

UPDATE: 2 p.m.

As a way to offset the loss of more than $300,000 in traffic fine revenue shared by the province, Coun. Gail Given brought up the motorists four-letter word, 'photo radar.'

"It might help to improve the safety of our roads if we could get back to that, and there might be some revenue share available for us," said Given.

"If we were putting more effort to traffic speed regulation, we may see more of those revenues come back to us."

A resolution put forward by the City of West Kelowna to lobby the province for a return of photo radar was adopted earlier this year by the Union of BC Municipalities.

UPDATE: 1 p.m.

Decisions made during the morning portion of budget deliberations have had no affect on the current spending estimates provided in the budget.

The proposed tax increase remains at 3.59 per cent.

However, three items, which were marked as priority two items and not in the budget, will be looked at later in the day.

These include an $800,000 restoration of the Water Street fire hall, $35,000 for traffic calming in Rutland and $49,000 for a tech position at the Kelowna Community Theatre.

There are those on council who believe something would have to be removed from the current budget to make room for any of these items.

UPDATE: 12:20 p.m.

City council has taken a break from budget deliberations for lunch.

Deliberations expect to resume at about 1 p.m.

UPDATE: 11:15 a.m.

Decisions made during Thursday's 2018 budget deliberations will guarantee a fully paved link between downtown Kelowna and UBC Okanagan along the former CN Rail corridor.

While jurisdictions throughout the central and north Okanagan have agreed to cover the nearly 50 kilometre path with crushed gravel, the city has gone one step further to pave the path out to UBCO.

"That's been a dream in the city for many, many years. I can't tell you how many years we've had people saying can you create a safe way to UBCO," said Coun. Luke Stack.

"Now, with John Hindle going through and this rail trail...we are going to have a paved pathway from downtown to UBCO that people can ride on, and be cleared through the whole year as a transportation corridor.

"This is a major accomplishment."

Coun. Gail Given added the work around active transportation corridors in the city through this budget should be a celebration for those residents looking for other ways to get around, other than a single-occupant vehicle.

"In totality, we end up with a much better network at the end of the day," said Given.

"While it may not have been a year for the parks department, our linear corridors and active transportation corridors are being heavily invested in this year."

UPDATE: 10:20 a.m.

City council has agreed to take another look at Phase 3 and 4 upgrades to Rutland Centennial Park. Construction was part of the 2017 budget, but was pulled when a Canada 150 sesquicentennial grant fell through.

The item was not included in this year's budget.

Mayor Colin Basran asked that the $350,000 cost of the two phases be looked at again and brought back to council before final budget approval in May.

Coun. Brad Sieben added it's important to take another look at the project, saying there is an expectation within the community to complete development of the park.

Council also agreed, as planned, to allocate $1.35 million to Phase 2 of Rowcliffe Park. The park is part of the Central Green redevelopment.

Phase 2 includes urbanized road edges, landscape boulevards, a sportfield, pedestrian sidewalks, a new (though smaller) dog park, a community garden and park landscaping.

Phase 1 is underway now, and is expected to be complete in the spring of 2018.

UPDATE: 9:40 a.m.

Council approved two upgrades at Kelowna International Airport designed to keep up with technology. Council agreed with a request to spend $300,000 to install four electric vehicle charging stations over the next two years.

Another $100,000 will be spent on infrastructure to track ride-sharing pick-up and drop-off at the airport. The system is needed as the province indicates legislation will be enacted by the end of next year to allow ride sharing services such as Uber to operate across the province.

All money spent on the airport comes from user fees and does not impact taxes.

Council, as expected, also approved the addition of 12 new firefighters at a cost in 2018 of $860,000. That will increase to $1.035 million in 2020.

UPDATE: 9:10 a.m.

As city council gets ready to review, and approve Kelowna's 2018 budget, Mayor Colin Basran kicked the morning off by calling the budget review an exciting, but stressful day.

"We love this city," he reminded local residents. "We know there are a lot of issues, and challenges we are dealing with as a growing community. I ask you keep in mind who we are building this community for."

City manager Ron Mattiussi, who is presiding over his final budget, says taxation is the price we pay for civilization.

"It's a reality," he said.

"Today is a day that, hopefully, we got it right."

Kelowna city council will decide how best to spend your hard earned tax dollars during day-long budget deliberations Thursday.

The annual "line-by-line" budget exercise will determine exactly how much the city will spend in 2018, on what that money will be spent on, and where those funds will come from.

The city's preliminary estimate calls for a 3.59 per cent tax increase over 2017.

The preliminary figures includes a $134.5 million operating budget, an increase of $7.4 million over 2017.

The proposed tax increase includes an additional 1.59 per cent for fire services and two per cent for other operations.

The proposed budget includes several additions for protective services. It's expected 12 firefighters and one truck will be added to the fire department while four officers, four data processors and a secretary are expected to be added to the RCMP detachment.

Deliberations begin at 9 a.m.

Castanet will provide complete running coverage of deliberations, and how decisions will affect you in 2018.

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