KAMLOOPS — Homeowners in Kamloops may be able to anticipate a lower tax increase in 2018 than in previous years.
During Tuesday's city public budget meeting, Finance Director Kathy Humphrey announced a preliminary increase of 1.93 per cent, down from a 2.4 per cent jump in 2017.
"The departments have been working really hard to look at better ways of doing things," said Humphrey. "We spent this morning talking to council and had the managers come in, telling them about the little things that they're doing, whether it's just changing the way you do things, changing a route. We've taken a lot of things out to bid, so our contracts are coming in cheaper."
Humphrey mentioned city expenditures are down 0.44 per cent, amounting to about $440,000. That has allowed the finance department to lower the proposed tax increase, which hasn't been set.
"For the benefit of council and the public, the parade of managers that we've seen today, and the efficiencies that both they and our CUPE staff have come up with, I think is laudable," said Kamloops mayor Ken Christian. "It just shows we are constantly looking for efficiencies as a city and trying to be prudent in the expenditure of taxpayers money."
Christian said he's happy with all the cost-cutting measures by city staff.
"There's been a number of them related to cross-training, where people who are operating snow plows in the winter time are converting to design shop in the summer time," said Christian. "We have more stability and lower training costs."
The efficiencies are also allowing the city to provide funding for two more RCMP members, bringing the total to 123 members. Humphrey said it costs the city between $150,000 and $175,000 per member.
"We're looking at funding what has already been approved by the RCMP," she noted. "So historically, we have 129 members that potentially could be in Kamloops. We haven't been funding that amount, so we're looking at getting it up to 123 members funded this year."
Success with public transit in Kamloops is also adding to efficiencies. Ridership is up three per cent in 2017 and is 14 per cent higher than other similar-sized cities like Nanaimo.
"Transit this year is down in cost and services are up, so that's a good news story," noted Humphrey.
Humphrey said based on the average price of a single family home at $376,969, homeowners may be paying $40 more in 2018.
There will be a public budget meeting next Tuesday, Nov. 21 at the Sandman Centre from 7-9 p.m.
A final property tax rate won't be set until the spring.
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