Kamloops committee approves four supplemental budget asks, eyes 9.55 per cent tax increase

City tax hike under 10%?

Kamloops council’s committee of the whole has made its recommendations on which supplemental business cases should be added to the city budget — giving a nod of approval to funding boosts for drainage projects and Victoria Street beautification, among other asks.

The committee of the whole meeting took place on Tuesday with council members ultimately voting to include four out of a possible eight supplemental items in the budget — two of which will be funded by taxation, with only one of these items impacting the 2024 tax rate.

Accounting for this supplemental budget item, the city is looking at a possible 9.55 per cent property tax increase this year. Council will finalize tax rates and financial bylaws at future meeting.

The committee of the whole voted unanimously in support of increasing taxation-based funding by 0.1 per cent in 2024 — a total of $136,000 — to help expand its funding agreements program. The program allows the city to provide funds to partner organizations and not-for-profit agencies who deliver programming and services outside the scope of the municipality.

Coun. Nancy Bepple said the organizations receiving funding from the city provide amenities and services that make the Kamloops “a better place to be in a way that the city itself could never do.”

“There’s also a recognition that there are some long-standing funding arrangements, but there hasn't been opportunities for other groups to be able to enter into some sort of funding arrangement to provide a diverse set of services,” she said.

“The ones that are there, I think — I mean, what would we do without a symphony? What would we do without the Snow Angels? I think it's money well spent and it will reflect how our community is changing in terms of who we are, and how diverse we are.”

Drainage, streetscapes approved

Council members voted unanimously to increase taxation-based funding for the city’s drainage capital program, which will allow staff to renew critical drainage infrastructure, repair dike deficiencies, and fund other drainage-related work. Staff said this would help mitigate the risk of significant damage caused by rainfall or flooding events.

This will increase 2025 taxation by 1.45 per cent — an increase of $38.89 for the average home — but won’t have an impact in 2024.

In a 6-3 vote, the committee opted to recommend using money from the city's gaming reserve and short-term debt to boost funding for improvements like wider sidewalks, new furniture and landscaping for the 500-block of Victoria Street.

Coun. Mike O’Reilly noted this project has been in the books for nearly two decades.

“We can create an environment where people want to invest and develop and open businesses,” O’Reilly said.

Bepple said she was “torn” about the budget ask, noting the majority of committee members had just voted — in two split, 3-6 votes — to defeat two business cases coming from the community requesting sidewalk on Todd Road and a pedestrian path on Rose Hill Road.

“Building sidewalks is critical infrastructure, this is a nice to have. If the streetscape didn't go ahead, people would still have a sidewalk to walk on. Whereas those other places, it’s going be really tough for kids to walk to school, it’s going to be really tough for someone with a walker to go down a bus stop,” Bepple said.

She added the Victoria Street project wouldn't impact taxation, but she believed council was putting its energy into the wrong place.

“I think as a council we really have to think about how we want to build our city. And the underpinning of it should be that people can get around, and they don't need to have a car,” she said.

The committee approved a proposal to use $50,000 from the city’s gaming reserve to study redesigning the Heritage House parking lot to offer more space for event vendors.

No KFR medical unit

Council members voted 8-1 in favour of sending a proposal to establish a dedicated Kamloops Fire Rescue medical unit to a committee for further discussion, deciding against including it in the budget at this time.

Coun. Katie Neustaeter said she believed it is most appropriate to be discussing the business case at the committee level to determine next steps.

“That probably does look like advocacy to the province to meet this need and fill in the funding gap,” Neustaeter said.

A proposal to allocate money from the city’s solid waste reserve to purchase new technology for its collections trucks was also defeated in a 6-3 vote by the committee.

Coun. Kelly Hall said he “struggled” with the timing of the proposal, noting waste collection had just gone through a number of changes.

“When I take look at the technology, I think it’s great, I think as we move forward it’s something that we can embrace, but I‘d like to see the data that we have with the new and improved collection capacity that we have right now,” Hall said.

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