OK, I know I’ve harped on about this before, but this will be the last time, I promise!
I just read today on the MSN money page that the five fat cats at Fortress pulled in close to $500 million in earnings between them for 2006 (each manager’s share of profits for the year). Their total stake in the company is nearly $8 billion. So, although it was very generous of them to invest $50 million in the Peak to Peak gondola (which roughly equates to 0.65 per cent of their net worth, or a meager 0.14 per cent of the company’s $35 billion in assets), it still rankles me that they are getting a $1 million tax break. The company only pays 15 per cent tax on its income anyway, but I'll save that rant for another day.
I know the argument is that the gondola will bring in tax revenues to the resort, blah, blah, blah, blah, but that’s not the point (and come on, at the end of the day would a company like Fortress really drop wads of their hard earned dosh into something that wouldn’t eventually turn into a cash cow for them? I think not!).
The point is that it’s a tax break nobody else gets. The non-billionaire young families that had to leave Whistler because of affordability issues never got a tax break. Wouldn’t they have been a better candidate for some good old Town Hall benevolence? Or what about all the long gone small businesses that used to make Whistler a more unique and diverse shopping experience?
This tax break is also coming at a time when the resort is hemorrhaging money like there’s no tomorrow. Where shall we start? Oh yeah, there's the $6 million Muni hall upgrades (here’s a thought, with the resort’s inevitable ownership of Millennium Place and its debt, couldn’t some members of staff find some space for their desks there, considering it’s only a stone’s throw away?). The $11 million and counting for the library, which according to one councilor is embarrassing in size. The long overdue multi-million dollar wastewater treatment plant expansion, which will hopefully spare us all from the “Bodily Function Junction” stench that greets us upon entering and leaving Whistler. And who knows how many gazillions for the new museum (wow, here’s another thought, and forgive me if I sound a little delusional, for I do not have the remarkable business acumen of an out of town consultant, but if the library is embarrassingly large, why didn’t we incorporate it with the museum in the first place, DOH!). The list goes on and on as we all well know.
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