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City lowers tax increase
Taxes are still going up but not by as much as expected.
Vernon council voted unanimously Monday to decrease the 2012 tax increase from two to 1.7 per cent after learning that provincial traffic fine revenue is considerably higher than was originally forecast.
“Our economy is still facing challenges and we’re looking at what we can do for our citizens,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.
The city had anticipated receiving $496,000 in traffic fine revenue but the actual number is $802,000. Of the difference, $80,000 to $90,000 will go towards lowering taxes and the rest will be put into reserves for a new RCMP detachment in the future.
Coun. Bob Spiers believes the city had a responsibility to reduce taxes because of other financial pressures facing residents like water rates.
“We’ve got a heck of a lot of people who will feel a pinch,” he said.
While lowering the tax hike was unanimous, some elected officials expressed some reluctance because there are other demands on the city. Among them is improved pedestrian safety at Okanagan Landing and Myriad roads.
“I want to make sure we’re providing a level of service and if there are safety concerns, we need to address them,” said Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe.
The city held a public open house and an input session on the proposed 2012 budget Monday. Two people showed up — former councillors Shawn Lee and David O’Keefe.
“It’s distressing to see a poor turnout for such a presentation,” said Lee.
Lee was pleased that the surplus traffic fine revenue was going towards long-term planning for a new RCMP building.
“It’s a good decision,” he said, adding that reserves for future capital works are important.