City tax details still not determined

Vernon residents still don’t know if property taxes will climb in 2013.

Holidays have delayed any discussion of the proposed financial plan and a possible tax increase. But Mayor Rob Sawatzky anticipates his council colleagues have been considering the ramifications.

“Budgets keep us awake because there are tough choices to make,” he said.

The overall proposed budget is 1.8 per cent higher than 2012 ($448,041).

Administration has provided solutions to replace $2 million in reserves that were used to supplement the 2012 budget. The options include fee for service hikes or service reductions.

Also outlined in the budget is the need to protect assets like sidewalks, roads, sewer and water lines.

Staff has asked council to increase property taxes 1.9 per cent a year over a decade for infrastructure. That would generate about $6 million.

Among the challenges facing the city’s financial plan are $448,000 less in provincial traffic fine revenue and a loss of $479,000 because of a change in service provisions with the regional district.

Sawatzky admits the current situation is daunting.

“There are recommendations from administration to deal with aging infrastructure in a sustainable way. But we’re also trying to run a tight ship in these financial times,” he said.

Council will meet between Jan. 16 to 18 to consider the details of the draft budget.

“We’re doing a little homework and preparing for the discussions,” said Sawatzky.

It’s anticipated council will consider giving three readings  to the financial plan bylaw Jan. 28.


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