City spends less than most

While overspending is shown to be plaguing almost every municipality in B.C., Kelowna appears to be in control better than most other large cities in the province.

With municipal elections barely a month away, new data from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business shows operational spending by municipalities in B.C., on average, was nearly four-times higher than population growth between 2006 and 2016.

According to the report, municipal operations spending went up 43 per cent in those 10 years while the province's population grew by 12 per cent.

The CFIB said only eight out of 152 municipalities kept spending in line with benchmark growth — meaning their spending increases were below the level of inflation and population growth.

"If municipal spending had been kept in line with that benchmark, the average family of four could have saved $7,695 in municipal taxes over this 10 year period," the report stated.

But among the 20 largest cities in the province — where more than 66 per cent of B.C.'s population lives — Kelowna was ranked third-best for its spending, behind Port Coquitlam and Maple Ridge.

According to the report, the city's operational spending per capita went up 10.3 per cent between 2006 and 2016, the second-lowest increase among B.C.'s largest cities. Kelowna's population grew by 14 per cent in that timeframe.

Kelowna's spending per capita was at $1,560 in 2016, which is also on the lower end of the scale among the province's large cities.

Province wide, the top-ranked Okanagan municipalities for controlling spending between 2006 and 2016 were Armstrong (third), Coldstream (13th) and Kelowna (19th).

Vernon ranked 88th, with spending increasing 42 per cent per capita in the 10 years and the population increasing by 14 per cent. 

Penticton was ranked the lowest among Okanagan municipalities at 109th. Spending per capita went up 28 per cent while the population grew by only one per cent.

West Kelowna wasn't included in the report, as it was incorporated in 2007. 

The CFIB said any spending increases above the level of inflation and population growth is "unsustainable." The report noted average municipal spending in 2006 was $973 per capita, and adjusted for inflation, that average rate climbed to $1,243 per capita.

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