Budget deliberations are underway in council chambers. (File)

UPDATE: Council budgets for 11 additional cops, moves tax increase to 4.15 per cent

The mayor and council have begun their eight-hour meeting to pore through the budget line-by-line

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.

Council has wrapped up its 2020 budget deliberations.

The motion to approve the budget was approved unanimously by council.

The provisional budget’s proposed 3.9 per cent tax increase went up to 4.15 per cent as council approved four officers more than were initially called for.

The total increase in taxes per average homeowner would be $86 for 2020 — $5 more than the provisional budget’s $81.

The city has until May to finalize the 2020 budget.

_______

UPDATE: 2:10 p.m.

Kelowna city council voted to bring 11 additional RCMP officers to Kelowna as part of its 2020 budget.

Seven new officers were requested in the provisional budget but an additional four positions marked priority two were moved up to priority one, adding them to this year’s budget.

The move adds $360,000 to the 2020 budget, bringing the proposed 3.9 per cent tax increase to 4.15 per cent.

City staff said this will increase the 2021 and 2022 tax rates — both of which are expected to be over five per cent increases— by .25 per cent as well.

Councillors Stack, Wooldridge and Given opposed the hotly contested motion, stating their discomfort with tax increases over five per cent.

The total increase in taxes per average homeowner would be $86 for 2020 — $5 more than the provisional budget’s $81.

Deliberations are still ongoing.

More to come.

_______

UPDATE: 12:35 p.m.

Council approved the budgeting of $500,000 for the design of a pedestrian overpass over Highway 97 between Rowcliffe Park and Downtown.

This number struck some councillors as an overpayment, with Coun. Luke Stack saying the number is “remarkably high.”

Coun. Charlie Hodge added that he finds the amount “staggering.”

Rafael Villareal, a city transportation planner, said the costs are normal for a project like this.

“It’s normal for design costs of a major project to be around 10 per cent of the total cost,” he said.

“It’s like that for every single infrastructure project we do.”

The pedestrian bridge was a required project in the site’s 2012 rezoning.

Construction is anticipated to begin in 2021.

_______

UPDATE: 11:25 a.m.

The city and SD23 are pursuing a potential partnership to replace Parkinson Recreation Centre and build a new high school as a shared facility.

Council approved the $500,000 cost to continue the pursuit and planning of the partnership.

The money will be used for staff time and associated consultant work prior to finalizing an agreement and to prepare for grants. All consulting costs will be shared with the school district.

_______

UPDATE: 10:40 a.m.

Construction on two bridges was approved by council at a cost of nearly $9.5 million, $2,236,800 from taxation.

The KLO bridge will be demolished and replaced, while the Lakeshore Road bridge will be rehabilitated to meet current standards.

Detailed design is underway for the KLO bridge.

The Lakeshore project will include the demolition and reconstruction of the bridge, urbanization of Lakeshore Road, completion of the ATC and watermain replacement.

Construction for both projects is anticipated to be completed in 2021.

_______

UPDATE: 10:30 a.m.

A much-anticipated park development on Cedar Avenue will finally begin construction in 2020.

Pandosy Waterfront Park will come in at a total cost of $4.5 million, with $386,200 coming from taxation.

This cost includes the public consultation, design and first phase of construction.

The first phase includes the demolition of the existing residential properties, a central plaza, activity lawn, beachfront, restored shoreline, and outdoor classroom.

“Democracy does work,” said Coun. Charlie Hodge.

“If you pound on the table and jump up and down and scream loud enough, we eventually hear you.

“This is a wonderful piece of green we’re going to enjoy for a long time.”

Construction on the first phase is anticipated to be completed in 2021.

Council said the fact that this is moving ahead is great news that wouldn’t be possible without the infrastructure levy.

_______

UPDATE: 10:10 a.m.

The Capital News Centre is set to see two new ice surfaces and more sports facilities.

Council approved a $230,000 cost to develop plans for the facility’s multi-year expansion.

The expansion as a whole is estimated to cost over $25 million.

_______

UPDATE: 9:55 a.m.

A priority 2 request from the Kelowna Fire Department for a new inspector is set to receive consideration from city council.

Fire Chief Travis Whiting said they are well behind on yearly inspections partially because of short term rentals such as Airbnb and as such is requesting an additional inspector.

The additional position would come at a cost of $84,000.

_______

ORIGINAL: 9:30 a.m.

And they’re off.

Kelowna city council has begun its deliberations on the 2020 budget and by the end of the day residents will have a better idea what their next municipal tax bill will look like.

The document proposes a 3.9 per cent tax increase made up of a 2.08 per cent in operations and a 1.82 per cent for the infrastructure levy.

The projected tax need for the city in 2020 is $151 million.

City manager Doug Gilchrest said he’s confident the budget will “meet the needs of the community.”

More to come throughout the day.


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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