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RMOW proposes 8.3% tax increase

Budget open houses set for today at Whistler Public Library
The public is encouraged to attend budget information sessions on December 1 at the Whistler Public Library.

It is often said there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. The latter may be increasing in the upcoming 2023 Whistler municipal budget. 

On Nov. 30, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) announced it is proposing an 8.3-per-cent increase in property taxes for the 2023 budget to keep pace with rapidly rising inflation. 

The proposed tax increase is one of the most significant in the municipality's history, and will work out to a little under $100 per million dollars in assessed home value. 

The average single-family home in Whistler is currently going for $5.1 million, which would result in roughly $500 in new taxes for homeowners. 

The additional funding will go towards keeping municipal services, like firefighting and policing, at current levels, the municipality said. 

The municipality is also proposing to cut the amount of project work by six per cent for 2023, along with a review of staff compensation, which may include benchmarking against comparable municipalities. 

According to Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton, the tax increase is necessary to continue attracting and retaining employees at the municipality. 

“Our operations are pressured by supply chain delays and labour challenges, so we need to attract and retain talent,” Crompton said in a press release.

"Our people are the ones who do the legwork to tap broader funding sources, advance critical infrastructure upgrades, meet budgets and deliver municipal services. It’s very important we remain competitive in this labour market."

The proposed tax increase is designed to keep pace with British Columbia’s record inflation rate, which rose by 7 per cent in October alone, the RMOW said. 

As it relates to projects, the 2023 budget focuses on climate change and wildfire mitigation work. The RMOW plans to complete building upgrades for energy efficiency and adaptation work on the municipality's dikes next year, with $15 million earmarked for climate action projects.

Property taxes make up half of the municipality's funding; the other sources of revenue come from a mixture of utility taxes and fees (20 per cent) and grant funding sources (8 per cent). The remaining income comes from fees, charges and additional grants.

The public is encouraged to attend the 2023 budget information session open house on Dec. 1 at the Whistler Public Library. RMOW director of finance, Carlee Price, will give a presentation at the evening session between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. The open house will include free childcare for the evening session. 

Municipal staff and councillors will be on hand to answer questions and receive feedback from residents all evening. Municipal staff will also be available to answer questions at an afternoon session from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 

For those unable to make it in person to the information session, the public may comment online through Dec. 16. 

“We are engaging with the public in two sessions this year to ensure we’re meeting the needs of our whole community," Crompton said. 

"With this second daytime opportunity to speak with staff, those working in the Village can stop in, learn about our financial decisions on their lunch break and connect. We hope to see people who haven’t been able to make it to the budget process in previous years."

Whistler council will consider the budget guidelines on Dec. 20 and first readings of the Five-Year Financial Plan Bylaw on Jan. 10.

Learn more about the 2023 budget here.