Councillor has issue with budget

A Penticton City Councillor is taking issue with how the city was able to reduce a projected $1.26M budget deficit.

Council gave the 2013 budget first three readings Thursday evening - a budget which will provide taxpayers with a zero increase.

In order to eliminate the deficit, council agreed to use $1M from previous budget surpluses and $250,000 from the interest stabilization.

Councillor John Vassilaki wasn't opposed to a zero impact budget - just how council got there.

Vassilaki says a zero impact budget is 'good for folks on fixed incomes,' but believes the surplus should go to upgrading aging infrastructure and not reducing the deficit.

"In my opinion that's the most important things in any municipality is the infrastructure. What that creates by having proper infrastructure is people investing in development," says Vassilaki.

"If you don't have the facilities in place to hook up to they will not come here. The city will have to ask them to put those services in place and nobody can afford those prices."

Specifically, Vassilaki believes the money should go towards upgrades along Winnipeg and Martin streets just as they did on Ellis Street last year.

"I am going to be bringing it up Monday night when it goes for final reading. I'm going to go back in the budget and ask for $1M to do underground upgrades on Winnipeg and Martin streets," says Vassilaki.

He says in a recent citizens survey about 80 per cent believe most development should take place downtown.

Vassilaki says he believes money should be set aside each year to look after upgrading infrastructure not just once.

"Without development the city isn't going to have any revenue - we'll be stagnant."

He adds that by neglecting infrastructure taxes will skyrocket in two to three years.

"If we were to do a little bit of an increase each year then when the crunch comes there isn't going to be this huge increase like they had up in Vernon. That's what I am trying to prevent."

Penticton council is expected to give fourth and final reading to the 2013 budget Monday night.

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