Councillors Scott Anderson (left)

Councillors Scott Anderson (left)

Vernon officials presented with 2017 tax hike

The hike includes 1.7 per cent for operating expenses and 1.9 per cent for infrastructure.

Vernon officials are sharpening their pencils.

Council was presented with the proposed 2017 budget Monday, including a 3.6 per cent tax increase.

“It’s a good starting point but I hope it won’t be the end,” said Coun. Bob Spiers.

The hike includes 1.7 per cent for operating expenses and 1.9 per cent for infrastructure.

“I am impressed given increases in the RCMP and the fire department,” said Mayor Akbal Mund.

“Administration has done a good job and we’re trying to watch taxpayers’ dollars.”

However, Mund admits the budget process is just beginning and the final impact on taxpayers could evolve.

“We will see if we can cut costs or if there are projects we can put together.”

The overall tax hike in 2016 was 3.4 per cent.

Council was told Monday that considerable work has gone into keeping 2017 spending in line while meeting the needs of residents.

“It’s an innovative budget that invests in a variety of programs,” said Will Pearce, chief administrative officer.

“We’re not drawing down on our savings account. We’ve balanced revenue with expenditures and we’re building up key reserves.”

It’s anticipated tax revenue generated from infrastructure in 2017 will reach $2.9 million. The focus will include roads, sewer, the cemetery, sidewalks and parks.

Additional resources will also go into the RCMP, bringing the budget for the force to about $10 million.

“That’s 28 per cent of all municipal taxes collected,” said Pearce.

There will also be additional staffing within the purchasing and human resources departments to address demands.

Council will look at the budget document more in-depth Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and it’s anticipated that the first three readings of the financial plan bylaw will be considered Dec. 12.

The proposed 2017 budget is being posted at www.vernon.ca.

“The budget is 74 pages more than last year,” said Spiers of additional information that has been included.