Vernonites will have to pay more taxes than what was previously thought after City of Vernon councillors approved a 4.91 per cent tax increase in 2020 — up from a previously projected 3.35 per cent.
The extra jump comes after council passed a motion in its special meeting Tuesday, Dec. 10, to add two additional full-time career firefighters to the budget.
With two more firefighters, Fire Station No. 2 in Okanagan Landing could be staffed nearly 24-7, fire Chief David Lind told councillors.
“This is an investment into the safety of our citizens,” Coun. Dalivr Nahal said.
Coun. Brian Quiring asked for the dollars-and-cents of it all, and the new hires would cost Vernonites approximately $11, or $69 per household.
“This is something important for the Okanagan Landing area,” Coun. Akbal Mund said. “Maybe not for the rest of the residents, but it does (matter) because it opens up Fire Hall No. 1 for faster response times.”
“This is challenging for us a council, troubling for us as a community,” Mayor Victor Cumming said.
The motion to add the new firefighters passed with all but the mayor in favour.
As the budget was being accepted by councillors, two fires broke out.
Around noon, a house in the Blue Jay Subdivision was fully involved Tuesday and wasn’t extinguished until shortly after 3:30 p.m. Then, just before 2 p.m., a company truck ignited in a gated community off Okanagan Landing Road. Fire crews quickly snuffed the flames after they jumped from the truck and spread down the property.
Last year, taxes went up 5.03 per cent; 2020 will see a 4.91 per cent tax increase which breaks down to around $73 extra for the average household of $441,246.