If your Kamloops house is valued at $340,000, your taxes are going up $60.
City council cut and slashed at 2013 budget items Tuesday, and while most weren't happy with it, they agreed to a 3.55 per cent tax increase.
Councillors Arjun Singh and Nelly Dever voted against the rate, the rest of council voted in favour.
The final tax figure was half what council faced going into Tuesday morning's budget deliberations. The initial tax increase — if all supplementary items were approved — was 7.27 per cent.
Councillors jumped at using a $1-milion surplus from last year, rather than putting it toward a reserve fund, even though last week they agreed they should aim to boost the current $11-million reserve up to $13 million.
Among the big-ticket decisions council made Tuesday were:
* $475,000 for a hydrovac truck (last year, contracted hydrovac services cost the City $372,344).
* $340,000 for an odour bed at River Street.
* Council rejected $150,000 for a reserve fund to replace the indoor track at the Tournament Capital Centre and $250,000 for a similar fund for the outdoor track and field.
* Two RCMP officers were requested to deal with mental health and domestic violence issues, at a cost of $109,568 for half of this year. The amount would double for all of next year. Council initially approved both, but later opted to go with just one.
* Street light requests for Bestwick Drive ($18,000) and Todd Hill Crescent ($40,000) were turned down, while two lights for Finlay Court were reduced to one, for $12,500.
* A waterpark for Westsyde will not go ahead, as council declined to put in $300,000 and $300,000 next year. The community has raised $20,000 toward the project. Council did opt to match the $20,000 this year and in subsequent years toward the park.
* A new roof surface for the Canada Games Pool — the old one is bubbling and deteriorating and due for replacement — got the green light. Council agreed to create an annual budget for repairs to the Tournament Capital Centre of $375,000.
Council agreed to the $905,000 cost of renovations to the old John Todd school that's being converted into a community building which will include the Boys and Girls Club.
But there was relief when finance director Sally Edwards said all or part of that money could come from a capital project reserve fund instead of being added to this year's tax bills. Council voted for all of it to come from the reserve.
On top of the tax increase, Kamloops residents were hit with five-per-cent increases in sewer and garbage rates this year (but not water), pushing the total jump in the tax and utility bill for a $340,000 house up to $78.
Council will still look at the ratios of tax burdens in residential, business and industrial categories. The city's four largest heavy industries — Domtar, Lafarge, Tolko and Arclin — submitted a letter requesting the major industry class be reconsidered as the burden has become "increasingly inequitable and unfair."
Mayor Peter Milobar raised the letter as a point of discussion during Tuesday's budget talks, but council ran out of time.
Instead, the discussion was rescheduled for April 9, before council gives the tax rate final approval.
THE BUDGET IN QUOTES
"I'm looking at it as need versus want. I think our decisions should be based on what do taxpayers need versus what do they want?"
— Coun. Nelly Dever
"We fund the pool, fitness centre, put in a hot tub and sauna. We fund a lot for the Westsyde area. It's not used to full extent, it's heavily subsidized by taxpayers. I don't think we've been ignoring them. We've done a lot. Everybody would love a waterpark. We've done a lot. We can't just give to one neighbourhood and not others. Let's not get carried away just because they've got a great neighbourhood association and they came to speak to us."
— Coun. Tina Lange on Westsyde's request for a water park costing $300,000 this year and a matching amount next year.
"It comes down to the taxpayers' ability to pay. I support local businesses, but not on the backs of taxpayers and their ability to pay. If the City can actually do it for a cheaper amount of money, that speaks for itself."
— Coun. Marg Spina on the City using staff to do its own hydrovac work rather than contracting it out.
"I did some reconnaissance. Riverside Park has an odour bed and is still somewhat stinky, but not as much as River Street. I'm apprehensive the people living there (Park Place) will think it's a perfect fix. I don't believe that's the case. So I'm apprehensive about this fix, because I don't believe it is a fix."
— Coun. Donovan Cavers on a $340,000 odour bed proposed as a solution to sewage smells near the Park Place complex.
"Mental health is not a crime, but I do support extra officers in these areas. Domestic violence is something we supported as one of the top five priorities for the local detachment so we have to support this."
— Coun. Nancy Bepple on adding two more RCMP officers to deal with domestic violence and people with mental health issues.
"To me, this is a no-brainer. We can't NOT afford them. People with all illnesses require people to look after them who are experienced and understand the issues. This is a highly specialized technique to look after people. It's in our best interest to support specific people dedicated to look after all the illnesses; mental, physical, getting them up, getting them moved to the hospital, get them into the system. It's in our interests and those of community to have this."
— Coun. Pat Wallace on hiring two more RCMP officers for cases involving domestic violence or people with mental health issues.
"I support the expenditure. After 18 years with school district, when you have flat roofs in this environment, their life expectancy is 20 years. Don't put it off, you'll face increased expenditure when you have leaks and breaches of that membrane."
— Coun. Ken Christian on a $340,000 expenditure to resurface the Canada Games Pool roof.
"I'm still uncomfortable with 3.61 (per cent) and how it looks. We are a little high for my comfort level."
— Coun. Arjun Singh on the proposed tax increase before the final figure was reached.
"At 3.6, I can live with it. It is high. We have to keep in mind we also projected a five per cent water increase this year that we got to zero. Part of the problem this year is, it's coming home to roost to put things off. Wait one more year; as if we cross our fingers, the wall won't need to be painted."
— Mayor Peter Milobar on last year's tax decisions hurting this year's budget.