Many Whistler taxpayers have questions — and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) wants to hear them. But financial planning is a two way street, so the RMOW has a few questions of its own.
It's time to talk. Taxes. Revenues. Reserves. It's your call. Last autumn during the municipal election, Whistler spoke loud and clear about wanting to have more input into the annual financial planning process that results in the RMOW's yearly budget.
To put Whistler on a more transparent path toward a successful financial future, the RMOW Finance and Audit Committee (FAC), in conjunction with Council, has developed "Budget 2012 — Charting Our Financial Future," a process and plan for continuous financial improvement. You need to get involved for it to work.
The FAC invites all interested Whistler taxpayers, residents, business owners and stakeholders to a financial planning open house and community workshop Monday, March 12 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the Grand Foyer of the Whistler Conference Centre.
Charting Our Financial Future focuses on the 2012 budget and maintaining municipal services within existing budget parameters. Where necessary, incremental cost increases have been funded and are offset by savings in other areas.
This process confirms Mayor and Council's direction to implement zero tax and utility fee increases for 2012, to provide more accessible financial reporting and accountability, to introduce quarterly reporting and to increase community engagement in financial planning.
Whistler Council, the FAC and relevant RMOW staff will be on hand to work with Whistler folks on key budget decisions still to be made.
At the open house, Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden will review Council priorities related to financial planning, including plans for the process moving forward into 2013 and status of the 2012 budget. RMOW Interim Director of Finance and Fiscal Planning Ken Roggeman, will present a municipal finance overview after which open house attendees will have time to chat with staff and Council about budget matters.
FAC member Councillor Jack Crompton will host the event and facilitate the key questions: questions the RMOW has for community members and vice versa.
"We will be asking members of the community questions we really haven't got the answers to yet for the 2012 budget," Crompton says.
"We will be using a wide variety of channels to hear what the community has to say about the budget and this meeting will connect people with them."
To start, RMOW is developing a list of Budget 2012 Financially Asked Questions (FAQ). To submit a question, simply send it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
These questions will go directly to the Finance and Audit Committee to review and answer.
The hottest questions, and answers will be shared during the March 12 event and these will also be posted on whistler.ca/budget in an FAQ section developed by the community in collaboration with the Finance and Audit Committee.
All of these questions will become input to the 2012 financial planning process and beyond into 2013.
As part of the open house, a workshop will get to budget answers and questions. Individuals will be able to get together in small workshop groups and provide collaborative community-developed answers to the RMOW budget questions. Then, each table will get to develop questions of its own to present to Mayor and Council, the Finance and Audit Committee and RMOW staff to close out the March 12 event.
This is your budget. This is the time to work together. See you at the Conference Centre March 12 as we chart our financial future.