After two days of cutting and trimming, city council arrived at a 2.51 per cent increase in taxes to fund the 2020 city budget.
The initial budget put forward by city staff amounted to a 4.6 per cent increase, but council reduced that proposed number by nearly half.
For the owner of a $320,000 home in Salmon Arm, 2.51 per cent means a tax increase of $31.61.
For the owner of a $500,000 business property in Salmon Arm, 2.51 per cent amounts to a tax increase of $139.30.
In addition, the water and sewer use fees will go up by two per cent, meaning an extra $10 to $15 per household.
Mayor Alan Harrison, who described the budget as “challenging” in terms of keeping the tax increase as low as possible, said asphaltic overlays stand out as one of the biggest additions.
Council added $200,000 to the paving budget, in keeping with what city staff had recommended. A recent pavement condition survey put the city’s road network on the low side of a ‘poor’ rating. In 2011, the last time a report was done, the rating was on the high side of ‘fair.’
In the 2020 budget, the city will also be funding the addition of another RCMP officer to the detachment, bringing the number of municipal officers to 20.
The number of provincially funded officers will remain at five, despite repeated pleas to the province over the years to increase that number. The cost for the 20th municipal officer will be split between the 2020 and 2021 budgets as the officer will not be starting before September.
Harrison noted that the community has grown a lot since 2009, but the number of RCMP officers hasn’t increased since then.
Staff Sgt. Scott West explained that the department is short of investigative positions so has been having to pull from general duty officers. However, with increasing calls for services, that’s not possible.
West said it also means overtime. And if he needs to call in the South East District Emergency Response Team, “that’s $15,000 as soon as I pick up the phone.”