An unforeseen delay in hiring new RCMP members will help deliver some cost-savings for the City of Kelowna in 2013.
And the intended deferral in filling some vacant positions at City Hall will also generate some reductions in spending, according to the 2013 provisional budget.
In preparing the budget, city department heads have put forward suggested spending cuts of more than $1.2 million. Just over $900,000 of that represents a direct savings in taxation.
Most of those possible reductions are in addition to nearly $2 million worth of cuts that were approved by council last year, measures such as a reduction in street sweeping, that have a carry-over impact into 2013.
"A focus for 2013 was to maintain the current level of service in most of the operating departments with a slight increase in service for the protective service area," city manager Ron Mattiussi writes in a budget report to council.
"All of the onetime expenditure reductions from 2012 were reviewed to determine if a further year of reduction could be achieved," Mattiussi says. "Over $900,000 in operating budget savings are included for at least one more year."
Some of the savings come from not filling three currently vacant positions at City Hall. "And a delay in the provision of new RCMP members will produce a one-time savings," of more than $190,000.
Overall, staff are recommending a municipal tax increase of 2.5 per cent, which would translate into a bill of $1,686, or an extra $42, for the owner of a typical Kelowna home assessed at $454,000.
Adding in the school district levy, hospital tax, and other charges that appear on tax notices mailed out in June, the average homeowner will pay about $3,700 before application of the provincial homeowner grant.
This year, the city says, Kelowna had the fourth-lowest property tax and user fee charges among B.C communities with a population of more than 75,000.
The 2012 municipal tax increase in Kelowna was 1.1 per cent, and the average tax hike in Kelowna over the past three years has been
1.7 per cent.
"It's important to continue to provide services, infrastructure, and other amenities consistent with council's priorities, but reflective of the current economic climate," Mattiussi says.
Council will go through the 2013 budget during daylong discussions set for Thursday.