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Penticton  

3.4% tax bump coming

Penticton city council endorsed a 3.44 per cent property tax increase Thursday evening to conclude three days of 2018 budget talks.

Extra spending came in the form of increased grants to community groups such as the YES Project, planning and outreach on Skaha Marina and an increased contribution to the arts reserve.

The vast majority of the draft budget presented by staff  — which came with a three per cent tax increase — went unaltered.

“There are some out there that expect us to cut, cut, cut wherever you can,” Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said when asked why the tax increase grew, not shrunk, over what staff suggested.

“We are getting this tremendous push for social programs,” he said, referring to an extra $132,819 in community grants council approved above the staff recommendation.

The largest part of that went to the YES Project, which received their full $400,000 request — $100,000 more than staff suggested — equating to .33 of the tax bump.

The Penticton Art Gallery also received their full $125,000 request, although the draft budget earmarked just $100,000.

Council voted to hold off on borrowing to replace the docks at Skaha Marina, instead opting to spend $100,000 on planning and community outreach about the marina next year. The city’s current operator is out at the end of 2018 and the facility needs major repairs.

Council did, however, approve borrowing of $1.6 million to help fund the $2.1 million revitalization of the 300 block of Main Street.

A planned increase to the city’s bylaw budget was tweaked, with council directing a review of the department to study the need for an additional bylaw officer.

“Staff did their own pencil sharpening, they did such a tremendous job in getting to where they did, to find places to really cut down on,” Coun. Campbell Watt said.

In addition to inflation and contractual increase ($840,000), other driving factors behind the 3.44 per cent tax increase is an additional police officer ($150,000 per year), improvements to the city’s busy development services department ($250,000) and saving for future major infrastructure projects ($300,000).

The increase per household will be determined next year after property tax assessments come in and council examines the business tax multiplier. 

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