UPDATE 4:40 p.m.
After reviewing items it starred for further discussion earlier in the day, City council has been able to reduce the overall 2023 municipal budget to 3.8 per cent.
The reductions of 0.21 per cent included moving some items from tax funded to reserve funded.
Council was also able to add two additional full-time bylaw officers and increasing the downtown cleanup budget from $51,800 to $107,000, while lowering the overall tax rate.
UPDATE 3:50 p.m.
Council has completed it's line-by-line review of the 2023 proposed municipal budget.
Staff are now working on items council has asked to bring back for further consideration.
At the conclusion of the budget meeting, council approved expenditures around the one per cent public safety levy which will include the hiring of six RCMP officers, two bylaw officers and four firefighters.
UPDATE 3:25 p.m.
City council will looking at increasing the budget for additional bylaw officers.
The current request seeks $65,900 to hire part time bylaw officers to help during the summer/
"This is something that is being asked for in the community and it truly needed," said Mayor Tom Dyas in requesting the additional money.
Just how much additional money will be made available will likely be discussed at the end of deliberations.
UPDATE 3:05 p.m.
Kelowna staff have been asked to report back on the scope of a review of the Journey Home strategy implementation.
At the request of Mayor Tom Dyas, staff will come back to determine whether the $40,000 cost of the third party review could be reduced, or whether it could be eliminated and doing it in house.
The review of the program is designed to make recommendations on the future viability of the strategy beyond the city's commitment beyond 2023.
UPDATE 1:20 p.m.
City council is looking at removing $307,000 from taxation and moving expenditures to reserve funding from three one-time only infrastructure operating items.
These include a strategic transportation partnership with RDCO ($82,000), stormwater basin plan ($150,000) and a downtown transportation review ($75,000).
The three items will be reviewed at the end of the day.
Presently, council is set to review nearly $500,000 in requests affecting taxation.
If alternate funding sources are found for all of these or it some are removed from the budget, it would mean a reduction of approximately 0.28 per cent from the proposed 4.01 per cent increase.
UPDATE 1 p.m.
Kelowna city council has resumed it's line-by-line deliberations of the 2023 municipal budget.
After reviewing the capital budget in the morning, council will now focus on the operating budget.
At the request of Coun. Ron Cannan, council will also look for another way to fund its sidewalk and bicycle renewal program.
With a cost of $150,000 to be paid for entirely through taxation, Cannan asked staff come back at the end of the day with different funding source away from taxation.
Council will also review a $31,600 request for two communication summers students. That is also a taxation item.
Council is taking a break for lunch after completing the capital portion of the budget.
They will return to tackle the operations portion in the afternoon.
UPDATE 11:30 a.m.
At the urging of Coun. Luke Stack, council will take a further look at money set aside for traffic calming within the 2023 proposed budget.
At $150,000, Stack says he is "uncomfortable" with such a small amount, but added he didn't want to see taxes increase to prop up that amount.
Council agreed to ask staff to come back at the end of the day with possible ways of propping up that budget through funds, such as reserve accounts, other than utilizing tax dollars.
Stack made the request, noting the city receives more and more requests from neighbourhoods seeking traffic calming measures.
UPDATE 10:20 a.m.
City council acknowledged a need in a future budget to replace the washroom facility at Rotary Park.
The replacement, a Priority 2 and therefore not funded in this years budget, is said by staff as the next washroom that needs to be replaced.
At a cost of more than $900,000, staff suggested the washroom facility would be similar to one recently completed at Gyro Beach with supports in place for other amenities including food trucks.
With a cost just shy of $1 million, Coun. Gord Lovegrove suggested a future discussion around the possibility of going to a European model of pay as you go.
UPDATE 9:40 a.m.
Kelowna city council won't debate how it will spend approximately $1 million in revenues through a proposed one per cent public safety levy until the end of the day.
The levy is a first time initiative introduced for 2023.
Discussion will centre around proposed staffing positions within the fire department, RCMP detachment and bylaw services.
UPDATE 9:15 a.m.
Kelowna city manager Doug Gilchrist called the city's 2023 proposed budget an "essentials only" budget.
Kicking off a day of deliberating the $553 million budget, Gilchrist says the city's fiscal prudence has been key to navigating the challenging times brought on by the pandemic.
"In preparing the budget we considered many things, but there are two obvious prevailing circumstances that have the greatest impact, inflation and growth," Gilchrist said kicking off the morning.
"With an inflation rate settling around eight per cent by the end of this year and being the fastest growing city in the country, we are seeing cost pressures I haven't seen in my 18 years with the city.
"I think citizens are demanding more, and better services from us, and the cost of those services are increasing exponentially."
Gilchrist says the city needs to keep up with infrastructure investments as well as maintain existing assets.
"In this regard, fiscal responsibility doesn't mean spending less money, in fact it means spending the appropriate amount so we are not creating a future liability in our assets for future considerations."
The proposed budget includes a planned increase of 4.01 per cent or about $91 more for the owner of an average home valued at $1 million.
ORIGINAL 4 a.m.
Kelowna's newly elected city council will spend the day today deciding how to spend more than half a billion dollars during the 2023 fiscal year.
Council will review each expenditure proposed within the 438-page budget document, line-by-line through the day.
The 2023 proposed $532 million budget includes a $175.474 million taxation demand, an increase of $8.3 million, or 4.01 per cent from 2022.
The budget includes 3.01 per cent for operations and a new 1 per cent public safety levy.
"The proposed public safety levy would provide a dedicated and predictable ongoing funding source for one of our highest community priorities, and will allow for improved financial planning and forecasting for the future," said city manager Doug Gilchrist said in explaining the new levy.
The infrastructure levy, collected since 2018 to help offset the city's growing infrastructure deficit, has been included within the operating budget.
The proposed budget, if adopted as is, would mean the owner of an average home valued at $1 million, would see an increase of $91.68 in municipal taxes over what they paid in 2022.
The final budget will be adopted in the spring.
Castanet will have complete coverage of budget deliberations as they happen.