City of Kamloops budget talks begin, 2023 provisional budget includes 5.6% tax increase

Council eyes 5.6% tax hike

The newly elected Kamloops council got its first look at the 2023 provisional budget on Tuesday, including a proposed property tax increase of 5.6 per cent.

This provisional tax rate is slightly higher than last year's rate, which was set at 4.92 per cent.

The 2023 tax rate will not be finalized until the spring.

During Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting, Kathy Humphrey, the city’s corporate services director, told mayor and council the city needs about $7 million more this year, due to changes in expenditures and a small loss in recreation revenues.

Humphrey said the city continues to face increasing costs for materials.

“The materials that are required for fleet and a lot of our civic operations stuff, the cost of them has significantly increased. Fertilizer has increased, which is causing problems in parks, road marking paint — now that we can actually get it — is now significantly higher as well,” Humphrey said.

“We've increased these budgets to try and reflect the same service levels that we need to provide but at the higher prices that we’re seeing.”

She noted municipal inflation is traditionally higher than inflation tracked through the Consumer Price Index.

"A lot of the goods that we buy increase higher than the CPI inflation. The big one that has had a lot of impact is oil, whether it's in fuel, or in a lot of the products that we make, a lot of the infrastructure-type products in Director [Jen] Fretz’s department,” Humphrey said, referring to the Civic Operations department.

“We have seen significant, like upwards of 50, 60 per cent increases in prices over the last couple years.”

Humphrey said the city has also added three more RCMP members to its detachment since last year and is now funding a total of 132 officers, which costs an additional $450,000.

Humphrey said the city has also seen an increase in insurance costs.

“Like many of you have probably seen on your home insurance, property insurance and liability insurance is significantly increasing due to climate emergencies around the world and significant payouts of premium,” Humphrey said.

“We, thankfully, haven't had a lot of incidents here in Kamloops, and we work really hard with our risk team and our safety team as well as our insurance brokers to keep our premiums down. But we still have an $81,000 increase in insurance.”

City council will continue to deliberate the budget, including supplemental items which are yet to be introduced.

Humphrey said city staff will be launching a Let’s Talk page on Wednesday, providing residents with the opportunity to look over the provisional budget and provide feedback.

Early in 2023, staff will plan a public budget meeting so council can meet and talk with residents about items in the budget.

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