Lake Country residents may be in for a significant tax increase for the second consecutive year in 2020.
District staff recommended to council a property tax increase of 6.03 per cent next year, lower than 2019’s tax increase of 8.7 per cent.
According to the draft budget introduced at Tuesday’s council meeting, 2.5 per cent of the proposed increase will cover the consumer price index, while 1.82 per cent of the increase will help pay for five additional RCMP officers.
The remaining tax increase will help pay for the district’s parks and recreation master plan, as well as two $10,000 grants for the Health and Planning Society and the local Heritage and Cultural Society.
Council also agreed to provide a $16,000 grant for the Lake Country Art Gallery and approve contract services for the Creekside Theatre.
During the meeting, council asked staff to come back with more information about a request to increase the property tax rate by an additional 1.25 per cent for the district’s Transportation for Tomorrow Plan.
“All of the things that we budgeted keep the Transportation for Tomorrow plan operating at a level where we can get some things done,” said Mayor James Baker.
“We do need to improve our roads in all parts of the district and we have a couple of big building projects coming up that we have provincial and federal money for, so this is going to keep staff busy too.”
According to district staff, Lake Country needs more RCMP officers because of population growth over the past few years.
Currently, Lake Country has 13 officers and the detachment is struggling to provide 24-hour policing service.
Council was told if RCMP assistance is required in the early morning hours, the call is often dispatched to the Rutland detachment in Kelowna.
With the addition of five more officers, the Lake Country detachment would be able to provide 24-hour-a-day policing.
During the meeting, council deferred on making a decision on the community engagement grant and traffic calming and road services until 2021.
“The District of Lake Country is one of the fastest growing municipalities in British Columbia. Along with population growth the district must provide essential services like roads, water, waste water and policing to keep up with the pace of growth,” states a press release from the district.
Council is expected to approve a provisional budget early in the new year, with the final budget adopted next May prior to property tax notices being sent out.