Vernon councillor calling for cost cuts

A Vernon politician hopes his colleagues will reconsider a hike in taxes.

A Vernon politician hopes his colleagues will reconsider a hike in taxes.

Presently, the city’s 2013 budget calls for a 4.2 per cent tax increase, or an additional $45 for the average household.

“I hope it’s not where we end up,” said Coun. Bob Spiers, who would hope the overall figure can be reduced before final adoption of the budget occurs.

“I’m not pleased with some of the projects we’re spending money on.”

Specifically, Spiers opposes $2 million for 30th Avenue revitalization and $1 million for the Polson Greenway on 29th Street from 41st to 43rd avenues.

“They are cosmetic. They are out of time and out of place,” he said.

Of the 4.2 per cent tax increase, 2.3 per cent is for general city operations and 1.9 is designated for infrastructure replacement.

“It’s necessary because we haven’t had a well thought out plan to deal with aging infrastructure,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.

“It’s not a wish list. It’s a must-do list. Earlier maintenance and care saves money in the long run.”

Some parking fees will be climbing to bolster revenue but some possible service cuts have been left on the sidelines. Among the programs that will remain are the collection of leaves and prunings.

No decision has been made on withdrawing $150,000 in support for O’Keefe Ranch.

“There’s a pending core services review. We want to make a decision that’s fully informed,” said Sawatzky of the need for more information.

It’s anticipated council will give the budget bylaw three readings Jan. 28 and then a public input session will be held Feb. 8.

The budget could be adopted Feb. 22 but Sawatzky admits the tax increase could still change.

“There is always interest within council in trying to reduce it and it is the purview of council to meet and discuss it,” he said.