Budget calls for small tax hike
Vernon’s new budget is almost written in stone.
Council has given three readings to the 2012 financial plan and final approval is expected in about two weeks. The budget calls for a 1.7 per cent tax increase.
“Because the economy still hasn’t picked up, we’re trying to keep taxes low but there is infrastructure that needs to be done,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.
No one attended a recent public input session on the budget and Lord says she has received little feedback about the financial plan.
“If we had a six per cent tax increase, we would have heard more but because we’re keeping things low, people are likely saying, ‘We have to live with it.’”
Police Contract Approved
With few options before it, the City of Vernon has accepted a new police contract.
The 20-year contract was hammered out between the provincial and federal governments and it ensures the RCMP will continue to provide services.
“There’s always a concern about financing but we have to sign the contract,” said Coun. Bob Spiers, adding there is little room for the city to oppose the deal.
Some municipal leaders across B.C. have expressed concern that the contract includes retroactive wage increases for some police positions.
“It wasn’t exactly known but B.C.’s attorney general has announced some credits that will possibly offset costs,” said Spiers.
Concerts Get Cash
Music will continue to be heard throughout downtown Vernon this summer.
The city has provided an $8,000 grant to the Downtown Vernon Association for the Civic Sounds and Street Sounds free public concerts.
However, Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe wonders if there is more the city could be doing to help draw people downtown.
“I’d like to know where we stand compared to other communities,” she said.
City staff will determine what other municipalities in the region spend on public concerts.