Penticton residents may soon be feeling the repercussions of deferred taxes from the Covid-19 era.
City staff revealed their proposed 2023 budget on Tuesday, which could see taxes for residential homes increase by $121 to $176 per year and commercial properties by $475 to $688 annually, based on an average property assessment of $1.2 million.
The proposed 3.3 per cent hike is due to deferred taxes that were used to limit the tax increase in late 2021 when constructing the 2022 budget. The additional 3.4 per cent is attributed to operational costs associated with inflation and a further three per cent for council priorities such as two extra police officers and an affordable housing strategy.
“Our main focus was on trying to keep the level as low as possible given that we knew that the deferral was coming,” said Angela Campbell, director of finance and administration with the city.
A staff report presented to council noted that Penticton’s tax rate is lower than most municipalities in the region. Revenue from increased taxes will go towards public safety hires, including two new police officers and one civilian RCMP member, four new firefighters, and expanded bylaw services.
“We’re learning this year that we need to have a steadier conversation about it throughout the year,” said JoAnne Kleb, city manager of communications and engagement at a media briefing Tuesday. “So there are no surprises when it comes time to budget time.” Council received recommendations at a special meeting Tuesday with Councillor Helena Konanz expressing concern over past high tax increases: “We need to look at what’s happening in our community, what’s happening in the region…People are having a tough time right now.” Budget deliberations will take place in March, with citizens able to provide feedback online or at upcoming open houses.