In advance of Council’s budget deliberations, scheduled for November 22, 2021 through to November 23, 2021, complete details of the City of Penticton’s Draft 2022-2026 Financial Plan and supporting Draft Corporate Business Plans are now available for the community’s review.
Along with maintaining service levels, the draft plan proposes significant investments in community safety, the top priority identified by Council earlier in the budget process. A suggested tax increase of 4.4 per cent will provide $1.6 million in funding for the purpose of increasing policing by three new officers, expanding bylaw hours from 7am to 11pm seven days a week, adding two additional community safety officers, enhancing the City’s fire protection and response efforts, and undertaking a community safety plan to review police, bylaw and fire services, guide actions and decisions on community safety and explore options to better monitor repeat offenders.
Recognizing inflationary pressures from factors like labour, goods and RCMP contract increases, the draft plan proposes an additional increase of 4.1 per cent, bringing the recommended ‘starting point’ tax increase to 8.5 per cent. Given sustained COVID-19 revenue losses from City facilities, the plan contemplates using the remaining $2.4 million Provincial COVID-19 Restart grant to protect taxpayers from further tax rate increases in 2022.
The draft 2022-2026 Financial Plan also supports Penticton’s commitment to sustain and renew city infrastructure for roads, facilities and City’s utilities. To achieve this significant capital investment of $47 million in 2022, the plan suggests borrowing given attractive rates and the City’s low debt levels.
And finally, as Council deferred setting utility rates for water, sewer, electricity and storm water until the budget process, next year’s proposed figures are included in the 2022-2026 Financial Plan. For 2022, the plan proposes a 2 per cent ($28/year residential) increase to electrical rates, a 0.6 per cent ($3/year residential) increase to water rates, a 2 per cent ($9/year residential) increase to sewer rates and a 25.3 per cent ($11/year residential) increase to storm water rates. Council will review and finalize these rates during the budget deliberations.
“As it has been nearly five years since Penticton saw a proposed tax increase greater than 5 per cent, I encourage people to attend the planned events and read the available materials,” said Penticton Mayor, John Vassilaki. “As with all draft plans at this stage in the budget process, no decisions have been made, so for anyone wishing to provide feedback, now is the time.”
To learn about the 2022-2026 Financial Plan, open houses are scheduled at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre for Wednesday, November 17 between 4pm and 7pm and Thursday, November 18, between 11am and 2pm. Attendees are reminded that COVID-19 protocols are in place for both in-person events.
For those unable to attend the open houses, two alternative online information sessions – focused specifically on the 2022-2026 Draft Financial Plan – are also available by signing up at the City’s community engagement website shapeyourcitypenticton.ca for either the Business Information Session, November 9, from 7pm to 8:30pm or the Community Information Session, November 15, from 7pm to 8:30pm.
Starting today, residents can get a head start on reviewing next year’s budget by downloading both the 2022-2026 Draft Financial Plan and the 2022 Draft Corporate Business Plan documents off of either the penticton.ca or shapeyourcitypenticton.ca websites or, for people without internet access, there is an ability to review paper copies at the Shape Your City information kiosks, located at City Hall or the Library.
The official window to share feedback runs November 8 through to November 19. Residents can supply their comments online via shapeyourcitypenticton.ca or complete a paper feedback form at the City Hall and Library kiosks.