Budget divides Vernon council

Vernon’s budget is close to being finalized but divisions exist over taxation.

Council voted 4-2 Thursday in favour of a 2012 financial plan, which includes a two per cent tax increase.

“Considering all of the work council and staff has done, it’s gone relatively well,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky, adding that the process initially began with an eight per cent hike to cover inflation, retroactive pay for firefighters and pavement management.

Staffing levels remain untouched but other expenditures have been delayed or chopped.

“You don’t do all of the capital works you would like to do,” said Sawatzky.

Councillors Bob Spiers and Juliette Cunningham voted against the budget, which must still be adopted.

“I felt we still had more work to do in getting it down,” said Spiers of the proposed tax rate.

“There are always things (services) to be examined and if they should be provided. In terms of revenue, we could have looked at increasing some fees to bring taxes down further.”

Coun. Brian Quiring raised his hand in favour of two per cent, but he would have preferred a three to 3.5 per cent increase instead.

“I’d like to see it higher because we’re bleeding our reserves,” he said.

“We have issues of infrastructure we need to address. We need enough money to preserve capital.”

Quiring blasted his colleagues that wanted to hike fees for criminal record checks and parking.

“We don’t want to raise taxes $25 but they’re willing to charge a person who works downtown $300 more a year for parking? It doesn’t make sense,” he said.


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