Council opens book on 2016 budget

Keremeos Council starts budget deliberations for 2016.

 

With a preliminary operating budget presented it appears that the village is on track to have a smaller tax increase than 2015, even with additional funding needed for the Okanagan Regional Library Board.

Council voted unanimously that a one-time payment of $7,574 will be taken out of the contingency fund to pay the village’s portion of the funds needed to keep the service level the same at the library.

The decision was made Monday during a regularly scheduled meeting.

Area B and Area G (excluding Hedley) will pay the remainder of the needed funds.

Next year the funding is expected to be collected through a tax requisition service bylaw.

Pat Burke, who has been hired as a financial consultant for the village as the search continues for a new chief financial officer, explained that the village’s Financial Plan Bylaws include a projected 2 per cent increase in tax revenues each year.

That increase is collected through growth (new builds, upgrades minus demolition) and increase to the existing tax base.

At this point, as the budget is preliminary, it’s unknown what if any increase might look like for taxpayers in 2016, but it’s expected to be significantly less than the 5 per cent increase approved in 2015.

“It’s too early in the process to speculate on any increase,” Bauer said.

What is known is, no changes to user fees decided by the village, including sewer user fees, cemetery fees or Victory Hall rental fees, are anticipated in 2016.

Two debentures for the Waste Water Treatment Plant will end in December 2015 and June 2016. The decrease in debenture payments results in a decrease in parcel taxes. Property owners in the lower/downtown area of Keremeos and Kview Estates will see a significant decrease in parcel taxes during the next two years.

Council approved unanimously to invest $4,000 into a business facade improvement program. The details of that program are not yet fully developed, but the program would allow eligible business owners to apply for a grant to a maximum of $2,000 to be used to improve the outside of their building.

An asset management plan that will be undertaken in the coming year will be funded partially by $10,000 being taken from reserves.

The asset management plan will provide a roadmap into the conditions of existing assets and the need for upgrades in coming years.

“The Asset Management Planning Process, including the Waste Water Treatment Plant Physical Condition Assessment, may necessitate council considering in the near future options such as a levy for the specific purpose of infrastructure replacement,” Burke’s report to council stated.

Council will hear more about the 2016 budget in the New Year. A final operating budget will be presented along with a capital budget outlining projects expected to be completed in the coming year. For more information on the preliminary budget visit the village’s website at www.keremeos.ca.

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