City council tackles budget

Vernon officials are holding a special meeting Thursday to plan for the 2016 budget

Vernon taxpayers could dig a little deeper.

City council is holding a special meeting Thursday to plan for the 2016 budget and staff is suggesting a 3.7 per cent tax hike.

“It all depends on what kind of projects we need to look at and wages for the RCMP contract,” said Mayor Akbal Mund.

A 3.7 per cent increase would include 1.8 per cent for operations and a statutory 1.9 per cent designated for infrastructure. The 2015 hike was 3.43 per cent.

Council recently approved a 1.8 per cent cap on the operational portion of the budget between 2016 and 2018.

“I could not support such a change and especially the idea of extending this cap beyond the next budget year (2016) and to the out years. (2017, 2018),” said Coun. Bob Spiers. “It will prove interesting what will happened if CPI in these years is higher than 1.8 per cent.”

The session Thursday begins at 9 a.m. at Lakers Clubhouse and will continue until late afternoon.

As part of the agenda, there will be overviews from divisional directors and a review of 2015 expenditures, the capital levy and the budget timeline.

“We want to get a jump start on the 2016 budget and we hope to have it finalized in January instead of March,” said Mund.

“We will know where the money is going and we’re set.”

After Thursday’s session, staff will review budget packages, which will then be presented to council Nov. 6.

Budget sessions will be held Dec. 2 to 4 and it’s expected initial readings of the budget bylaw will proceed Dec. 14.