Homeowners could be hit with $84 hike

Council takes first look at increases to taxes and utility bills

Michele Young / Kamloops Daily News
December 11, 2012 01:00 AM

The price of living in Kamloops could go up by almost $84 for the average homeowner next year.

That's the amount City council is starting with as it heads into budget deliberations next month.

City finance director Sally Edwards told council Tuesday if the status quo followed through next year in terms of services provided to residents, the tax increase would be 3.91 per cent.

On an average-assessed house of $340,000, that amounts to $65.40, she said.

"This is the cost of delivering current service level. Supplementals are additional requests. They come forward in the January budget discussions," she said.

In short, the list of supplementary budget items that council tackles each winter isn't accounted for in the preliminary tax increase number.

Then there are utility increases to include in that. The cost of water isn't expected to go up next year, but sewer is jumping five per cent to help pay for the new treatment plant and garbage is also getting a five per cent boost, or about $6 per household.

That puts the total at $83.70.

It's still better than what the numbers looked like last spring. Edwards said the projection made at the end of last year's budget process anticipated a five per cent tax hike in 2013.

With utilities lumped in (including a five per cent water increase expected at that time) the total would be $128.97.

However, utilities dirctor David Duckworth said his department found about $750,000 in savings through cuts to capital projects that don't need to be done right now, as well as changing priorities and efficiencies.

So the five per cent water utility hike - about $27 per household - isn't happening for 2013.

Garbage collection is going up, but only for residents with the 245-litre and 360-litre size carts - by $6 and $22, respectively. Those with 120-litre and 180-litre carts won't be hit with an increase.

There's still time to change to a smaller cart and not have to pay the $50 changeout fee.

Edwards said the initial tax estimate last year was based on lower building permit values and other monies that are boosting the City's revenues more than thought.

Among the cost increases the City is dealing with in next year's budget are: $1.19 million for hikes to the RCMP contract; $1.173 million for wage and benefit increases; $1.085 million for capital projects; $792,000 for transit improvements; and $527,000 for debt servicing.

On the other side of the equation, a line-by-line review found $279,493 in savings, plus new taxes from growth is expected to bring in $1.3 million.

Edwards pointed out that the annual public budget consultation meetings are being held earlier this year.

They run Jan. 22, 29 and Feb. 5. Budget information will be posted on the City web site.

Council holds other budget sessions in chambers on Jan. 15 and March 12. The tax rate is expected to be set on April 9.

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