Friday April 18, 2014

Preliminary budget at City Hall excludes unknowns

A five-per-cent sewer rate hike for 2014 was approved by council Tuesday as part of the preliminary five-year financial plan.

City finance director Sally Edwards said the preliminary tax increase is 1.99 per cent, but that's before a lot of unknowns are determined.

Those unknowns include new taxes from growth, the total from B.C. Assessment, the amount forthcoming from gas tax and the cost of supplemental items.

Edwards said water and garbage rates are not rising in 2014.

At this stage, that 1.99 per cent tax and sewer increase breaks down to $47.87 for someone with an average-priced Kamloops home of $342,000. Of that total, $34.95 is from taxes and $12.92 is from the sewer increase.

Next week, the early capital approval list will go to council so that staff can start putting out tenders and get those projects going as early as possible.

Council will go over more of the preliminary budget on Jan. 14 at 10:30 a.m.

Then on Feb. 4 at 9 a.m., feedback from the public and staff will be submitted as supplemental budget requests.

The public gets another chance to weigh in on supplementar items on Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Interior Savings Centre.

Council will start getting down to the final items on March 25 at 9 a.m., with a second go-round on April 8 at 10:30 a.m. to set the tax rate.

The two fall public input sessions have resulted in 127 requests that councillors will prioritize through individual Survey Monkey responses, said administrator David Trawin.

By categorizing that list, staff are trying to make it easier for councillors to tackle the requests in a manageable way.

Coun. Tina Lange said residents can still email councillors and let them know if they have ideas on how to save money. The financial plan is on the City's web site.

The City is expecting $3.2 million in gas tax revenue for 2014, and none of that has been allocated for capital works except for an upgrade on Windbreak, said Edwards.

"We anticipate getting the money but don' know what we'll use it for," she said, adding it will probably go toward the additional capital list.

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