KAMLOOPS – In January, the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce publicly expressed its concern about the City of Kamloops’s provisional budgeted property tax increase for 2022 of 4.89%.
We recognized and applauded the City for its past work in keeping tax increases to low levels, particularly last year’s increase of less than 1%. The Chamber also understands that a significant portion of the provisional budget’s tax increase is due to circumstances largely beyond the City’s direct control, particularly the RCMP’s new collective agreement and contractual increases in its collective agreements as well general inflation as decreased City revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, at the same time Kamloops businesses have been under tremendous pressures for most of the past two years due to COVID, wildfires and with flooding cutting off our transportation infrastructure. The addition of a significant property tax increase will only increase those pressures and may well be the difference for some local businesses between continuing to operate and choosing to close down.
The Chamber urged the City to be extremely cautious with all its supplementary budget funding requests with an eye to keeping the 2022 property tax increase as low as possible to meet core obligations and, if necessary, adjusting service levels to better meet demand. The Chamber also encouraged the City to be as creative as possible in seeking new revenue streams and opportunities to reduce the burden on property taxpayers. A good example of the City demonstrating this creativity is with the proposed 22.04 – Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Co-ordinator in which the City has recently found grant funding to support this initiative that will result in no tax implication for 2022.
Since that time, we have had an opportunity to review the City’s supplementary budget items with senior City staff in order to understand the constraints. We recognize that the City has continued to be prudent with its supplementary budget requests, with the vast majority of them having no tax implications as they are either funded by grants from other levels of government, from reserves or from debt with cost recovery options.
We also understand from those meetings that the original provisional tax increase may be lowered slightly due to finalization of the assessment roll for 2022, which would allow some flexibility for those supplementary budget items that do have tax implications in 2022. Nevertheless, in an era of continuing fiscal pressures, the Chamber feels that the total 2022 increase should be kept to an absolute minimum beyond what is envisioned in the provisional budget.
We therefore endorse the following supplementary budget items as presented:
22.01 – FTE Support Council Meetings (0.05% tax implication in 2022)
22.02 – New Mausoleum (no tax implication in 2022)
22.03 – Accessible Playgrounds (no tax implication in 2022)
22.04 – Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Co-ordinator (no tax implication in 2022)
22.06 – Urban Wildlife Management Plan (no tax implication in 2022)
22.07 – City Hall LED Exterior Lighting (no tax implication in 2022)
22.09 – Norbrock Stadium Venue Upgrades (no tax implication in 2022)
The Chamber does not endorse any tax increase related to the following supplemental budget items:
22.08 – Public WiFi
22.10 – Lorne Street Train Whistle Cessation
22.11 – Kamloops Tennis Centre Rehabilitation
22.12 – Overlander Park Washroom Facility
With regard to the Item 22.05 (Community Climate Action Plan Funding Strategy): the Chamber supports the endowment in principle but recommends the endowment in 2022 have a tax increase implication of no more than 0.28%, which, combined with the change in assessments and the other tax-affecting supplementary budget items listed above, would result in a total 2022 property tax increase of 4.99%.
Kamloops Chamber of Commerce