City committee recommends reducing Kamloops asset management, climate levies in 2024

Levy reduction endorsed

A Kamloops committee has recommended council reduce taxation-based contributions to the city’s asset management reserve and climate levy this year — which would result in a tax reduction of about $11 for the average home, if approved.

During Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting, council members heard the climate action levy was approved by the former council in 2022, envisioned to have a 0.35 per cent tax contribution per year for a period of no less than 10 years.

David Hallinan, City of Kamloops corporate services director, noted $1.3 million has been generated from the levy, with the reserves balance currently sitting at $632,500 as of December.

After some discussion, elected officials voted 5-3 to reduce the taxation-based contribution for 2024 by half to 0.175 per cent, and to revisit the funding strategy levels next year.

Coun. Kelly Hall wasn’t present at Tuesday’s committee meeting, and Coun. Stephen Karpuk, Coun. Nancy Bepple and Coun. Dale Bass were opposed to reducing the levy.

“This is our moment to show that we care about climate. We are doing the things that we can do for our own little community. … For our kids, for our grandkids and for our own pride in our own community,” Bass said.

“So I'm with these two in staying status quo, because climate change matters and we are leaders — so show we’re leading here.”

Coun. Katie Neustaeter said council has and will continue to prioritize active transportation projects, but the elected officials needed to weigh the impact of property taxes on residents.

“This is not a normal year, and we have to find some type of relief to provide our local tax base this year,” she said.

“Deferring these dollars, I don't think it's going to change climate action at this moment globally, and at a very unusual time. So I am not in favour of the status quo, because it's not a status quo time.”

The climate levy has strong support from a number of community groups, members of which showed up in force at a December budget meeting and again at Tuesday evening's public budget meeting, expressing disappointment that council members would opt to reduce the tax.

A letter in support of maintaining the fund had received more than 260 signatories as of Tuesday.

Council members also voted 6-2 in favour of halving this year’s taxation contribution to the city’s asset management fund to 0.25 per cent, down from 0.5 per cent.

“Under this scenario, the same program deliverables can be maintained and done," Hallinan said. "The $6 million into streets and streets restoration will be completed, along with the playground and the placeholder for Sandman Centre roof will still be intact, leaving approximately $7.5 million available again for 2028 to be allocated against a program to be discussed with council."

Bass and Bepple voted against reducing the tax.

“We're being far more fiscally prudent to be increasing the amount that we put in to the asset management fund every year than to defer it and have to pay down the road,” Bepple said.

The asset management reserve fund and the climate action levy represents a combined 0.85 per cent tax contribution, or about $21.25 on the average home's bill. If the two funds are halved as the committee proposed, this will save the average home about $10.65 on its 2024 tax bill.

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