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West Kelowna tax increase at 3%

West Kelowna taxpayers can expect to see a familiar number on their tax bill this spring.

Council gave first reading Tuesday to a 2013 budget that includes a 3 per cent tax increase.

Mayor Doug Findlater says the tax hike is in line with increases taxpayers have faced since 2008.

This is the first budget West Kelowna has produced without the safety net of provincial incorporation funding and, considering the governance committee projected a 5 per cent increase, Findlater says he is pleased council was able to hold the line.

"We came in at 5 per cent in 2008 and, every year since we have used 3 per cent and tweaked it from there. It's been between 2 per cent and 3 per cent every year since," says Findlater.

"Our 10-year plan projects 3 per cent increases. It's part of the price of being a municipality and getting a handle on fixing things that are broken and upgrading roads, sidewalks and sewers."

The increase works out to a tax increase of about $48 for the average homeowner.

Of course, that figure could fluctuate between now and the end of May when municipalities must submit their final budgets.

"As the assessments change and as more information comes in on anticipated costs - revenues and expenditures can both change," says Findlater.

"We've directed further investigation on some things and some other things may come out. It will come out in several iterations between now and May."

Findlater did say several projects were given the green light so they could be completed this year.

One of those projects is the Gellatly Road upgrade from Angus Road to the CN Wharf.

Findlater says it's council's wish to see that project go to tender later this month or in early February.

"We want that done and open by summer," adds Findlater.

"We're also starting road upgrades and sidewalks on Brown Road, part of Westbank revitalization."



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