Letters to the editor 

Whistler’s new self-fulfilling prophecy?

The pieces of the puzzle are coming together for me now. At first I could not make sense of what had happened to our municipal council. A few years ago the majority of their decisions made sense to me, unlike those of recent months. After weeks of trying to figure out what’s going on, I think I’ve come up with a theory for their radical change in direction.

Simply put, Whistler’s lawmakers have completely forgotten the value of our money. While most governments and businesses are doing more with less, Whistler is on a spending frenzy.

This point is illustrated by the following recent examples:

• $40,000 spent for a public consultation process that is immediately disregarded (choosing the consulting team for Whistler’s CSP);

• $143,000 for an e-commerce Web portal plan , note this is not for the portal but only for a plan;

• $750,000 increase in conference center contribution;

• Some hundreds of thousands, if not millions for the 2010 Olympics.

It wasn’t until I sat for lunch with one of the execs from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce that it hit me. You see, this gentleman was adamant about Whistler’s requirement for growth. After all, Whistler’s development is going to dry up, as will the municipal revenue stream from this development. I argued that perhaps the municipal budgets could be reduced by the amount of the lost development revenues. He argued that’s not possible, the muni needs the revenue to look after our town. Well, with spending like the examples given above, I’d have to agree.

This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You see, right now we don’t have a plan and we have lots of cash. What happens is we throw money at whatever cause comes along in the hopes that somehow we will drive future revenues. All these numbers then go into the budgets. Once these larger numbers get in the budgets they get a small percentage increase each year and then we have the budget for next year. This process goes on and on. Anyone who has worked for the government knows that you’d better spend your entire budget each year, for if you don’t, you’ll lose that budget for next year.

The result of this process is a continuous requirement for more cash. It goes like this… we need more cash, we need more growth, we need more cash, we need more growth, we need more cash… you get the idea. At some point we need to stop. Whistler’s local population and previous politicians all agreed that we would stop when we hit the bed cap. Now, apparently, a community of that size can’t support the municipal coffers. What gives?

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