Kelowna finds itself in good financial shape with 2024 budget talks a week away

City's firm financial footing

"There is no question local governments will always have pressures, not the least of which is on the infrastructure side, but I would rather be in our position than some others."

Those were the words of Kelowna finance director Joe Sass during a discussion Monday around the city's financial shape.

According to financial figures disclosed by Matt Friesen, the city is in good financial shape when looking at three specific matrix, financial flexibility, financial sustainability and financial competitiveness.

"In terms of financial flexibility our debt is low and decreasing relative to revenues but will be changing with the upcoming debt utilization needed to address our infrastructure needs," said Friesen.

"Financial assets and stability continue to be very strong.

"As far as competitiveness Kelowna is well positioned compared with similar sized cities across the province. A rapidly growing city will improve these capital matrix fairly quickly but the opportunity does still exist for maximization of annual revenues given our relative surplus figures."

Friesen says the financial health can be seen throughout various departments at city hall where he says eight of the 10 divisions are on target to meet their budgets by year end.

Two of those, he says, are above targets.

"For the financial services division, revenues are over targeted budget largely driven by our surplus investment revenue due to a combination of our investment strategy and an increase in interest rates.

"Planning, climate sustainability and development divisions have experienced significantly higher anticipated revenue so far due to the strong construction activity in the city."

When it comes to capital spending on infrastructure projects, the city has spent only about 39 per cent of the capital budget available.

"Coming out of COVID spending the money is a challenge," said Sass speaking specifically to infrastructure projects.

"Funding has become less of a barrier and some market issues have become more of a barrier. That is something we are looking at in detail right now."

As for infrastructure and the city's deficit, Sass acknowledged there is a large amount of infrastructure needed to be delivered but added it's a matter of timing and lining up money with the expenditures.

"In terms of when we will begin to address it, I am optimistic what you will see in the (2024) budget will help show in our long-range capital planning there is greater investment in infrastructure than we've had in the past."

City council will deliberate the 2024 budget on Dec. 7.

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