City of Vernon proposes 6.38% tax increase, including six more officers

By Pete McIntyre / KISS FM Vernon
November 14, 2017 - 2:29pm Updated: November 14, 2017 - 4:25pm

VERNON, B.C. — City of Vernon administration is recommending a 6.38 percent tax increase for 2018.

Chief administrative officer Will Pearce outlined the proposed budget  this morning, saying it focuses on public safety.

Pearce says the budget also deals with social challenges that are not unique to the city.

“Most municipalities of this size face challenging social demands. To solve them requires a commitment from all three levels of government,” said Pearce at Monday’s committee of the whole meeting.

The proposal calls for a 1.57% increase for operations spending, 1.9 percent for the annual infrastructure levy, and 2.9 percent for six more police officers.

RCMP superintendent Jim McNamara made his case for the extra officers, noting the city’s growing population and the increased demand for police service.

He says without it, they may have to disband their specialized units.

“Such as the downtown enforcement unit, the prolific offender unit and our school resource officer position in order to redeploy those resources to general duty, to deal with a growing demand for service.”

Four of the extra officers would be used for general duty, with one added to each of the four watches, while the other two would be used for the general investigative section, one, a corporal for the sex crimes unit, and a constable for the prolific offender unit.

The six extra officers would cost the city $1.1 million, or about $173,000 per officer which includes salary of up to $86,110 for constables, and benefits, administration and vehicle costs

Several council members spoke in favour of more officers including Brian Quiring, but he isn’t sure six more are needed.

“The statistics we see show we don’t have enough officers, so we do have to increase some positions. I’m just not sure what the number is,” Quiring told Kiss FM

Council will discuss the request more as part of its budget discussions Nov 29 and 30.

Pearce says the proposed operations budget increase of 1.57% would include $90,000 for the fire service equipment reserve and $84,000 for extra summer bylaw enforcement to deal with homeless/transient issues.

“In the budget, there is a clear and consistent theme to community safety,” added Pearce.

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