City of Vernon CAO Will Pearce outlines the preliminary budget details to city council Tuesday. (Kate Bouey photo)
Six new RCMP officers approved by the last city council are now going to hit Vernon taxpayers in the pocketbook.
The City of Vernon’s Chief Administrative Officer Will Pearce has told council that a 1.41 percent increase in the 2019 budget is necessary to “fill the hole forever” now that reserve money has been used up.
He says the new officers and taxation funding for one RCMP position previously established in the 2016 budget requires new tax revenues in the order of $1.2 million and saw the RCMP budget jump 14 percent year-over-year.
Overall, council has been presented with a proposed 5.57 percent tax increase in next year’s budget.
Pearce says operating costs have been held to a 1.2 percent increase and staff “strongly recommend” continuation of the 1.9 percent infrastructure levy which is now in year seven of a 10-year program.
The proposed budget moves a seasonal bylaw enforcement program, which includes summer patrols of Polson Park, to base funding, and includes some “modest increases” to complete work at Hurlburt Park, Lakeshore Park, Foothills Ravine trail, Beachcomber Lake access and Becker Park.
“The City of Vernon operates under exceptionally tight budgets and has held operating budget increases to less than 1.8 percent for eight consecutive years,” Pearce told council on Monday. “The proposed 2019 budget maintains this restraint approach.”
Debra Law, director of financial services, says the infrastructure levy will generate $4.3M in 2019.
The most significant project proposed for 2019 is the final phase of the 30th Street corridor which connects 30th Street to 29th Street from 37th Avenue to 41st Avenue (estimate $5,824,956),” writes Law in a report to council.