Public safety and reducing vandalism have been added to the City of Vernon’s 2016 budget but taxes are lower than first expected.
After three days of discussions, Vernon council agreed Friday morning to increase 2016 taxes by 3.4 per cent, down from the earlier projected 3.7 per cent.
“It shows good fiscal restraint managing taxpayers’ dollars,” said Mayor Akbal Mund.
Some additional expenditures were approved Friday, including $16,800 for Polson Park security.
“Private security will patrol the park between midnight and 6 a.m. from May 1 to Sept. 30,” said Shirley Koenig, director of operation services.
There will also be $30,000 spent to replace security cameras in the parkade. However, some concerns came from Coun. Dalvir Nahal.
“Is it going to be useful if no one is using it (parkade)? Wouldn’t a security guard make more sense?” she said.
However, staff and some council members pointed out that costs related to a guard can be expensive and cameras are effective at all hours.
“Bylaw staff monitor the cameras and they are constantly on,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.
It was originally proposed that the $30,000 for parkade cameras would come from taxes but an $11,000 grant will go towards that project. As a result, the $11,000 saved in taxes will possibly go towards setting up security cameras downtown.
“With the vandalism we’ve had, we need to do something like that,” said Coun. Catherine Lord of almost 100 parking meters being damaged.
The budget’s overall 3.4 per cent tax increase consists of 1.5 per cent for operations and 1.9 per cent for infrastructure.
“I’m pretty pleased because we maintain services and we’re adding two new police officers. It’s a good balanced budget,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.
Budget bylaws will be before council for consideration Dec. 14.