2.75% tax hike proposed

Summerland District Council has tentatively approved a 2018 budget plan that would include a 2.75 per cent increase in taxes for residents.

The plan predicts Summerland will spend $13.8 million in the 2018 fiscal year. Rising costs include garbage and landfill services, the RCMP contract and associated expenditures due to the scheduled municipal election.

The proposed 2.75 per cent tax increase has two purposes, with 1.03 per cent directly going to increasing reserve contributions for future capital projects and 1.72 per cent going to an operating funding shortfall related to increasing expenses.

The bump in taxes will equate to roughly $55.40 more per year for a Summerland household, using an average assessed home value of $535,900.

But this isn't the end of the debate over the budget. Though council unanimously passed the motion to move the budget forward today, that simply means it will be up for public scrutiny at an open house later this month. 

Councillor Richard Barkwill expressed his hope to learn more from the public about how they feel regarding one particular item in the budget — a nearly $600,000 skate park, partially funded by public donations and funding partners, and the rest provided by gas taxes.

"That's a lot of tax money for a skateboard park," Barkwill said. "I'd like to see that the community wants that before committing that much money."

Summerland resident Chris stood up during the public speaking periods of the council meeting and provided what may be a glimpse into the kinds of concerns citizens will bring up at the community consultation, asking council to designate more money in the budget toward road maintenance.

"People make fun of our roads. People from Saskatchewan make fun of our roads," he said. "If you've been to Saskatchewan, you know how humiliating that is."

The community open house will take place from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with a formal budget presentation at 6 p.m. on March 22, and council will take any concerns brought up into consideration as they continue to debate the budget following the meeting. 

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