Tax measures hit condo owners hardest 

New recycling fee means some tax bills could be 22 per cent higher than last year

click to enlarge NEW FEES Councillor Gord McKeever and other condo owners will now be charged a $170 recycling fee. Previously condos were exempt from the fee.
  • NEW FEES Councillor Gord McKeever and other condo owners will now be charged a $170 recycling fee. Previously condos were exempt from the fee.

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A six per cent increase in property taxes will reduce the impact by $1.5 million, leaving a budget shortfall of $2.3 million.

To meet that shortfall the municipality will have to significantly lower its contribution to capital reserves, which in turn means less capital spending. The goal of a 20 per cent contribution to reserves will drop to a 13 per cent contribution in 2008.

In addition, municipal department budgets will not increase with inflation but remain at 2007 levels. In other words, staff will have to do more with less.

There will be no supplemental new service items in the upcoming budget and community grants will be significantly scaled back.

The proposal is a significant departure from the norm in Whistler, which generally sees property taxes rise with inflation.

Inflationary increases can work for the status quo, said Councillor Bob Lorriman.

“It’s not business as usual for Whistler,” he said, alluding to the opportunities that are coming down the pipeline associated with the 2010 Olympic Games.

And in response to calls from other councillors for more spending cuts, Lorriman said: “There have already been significant cuts to get where we are today. I am very, very concerned about increasing the level of cuts above and beyond what staff is recommending.”

But the three naysayers on council encouraged staff to revisit the budget and find ways to increase taxation at the rate of inflation, roughly 2.1 per cent.

Forsyth said he could rationalize the increase in the solid waste fee to pay for the sewage plant upgrades as well as the recycling fee.

“We all use that,” he said. “We all need that.”

But he could not support the six per cent increase to taxes and urged staff to go back to the drawing board.

“I would ask kindly to please, let’s go back… and see if we can whittle that down still.”

The call was echoed by Wilhelm-Morden who urged staff to review spending.

“We need to look at the spending side, as opposed to the revenue side,” she said.

She also pointed to the increase in municipal revenues this year through the 4 per cent hotel tax, an estimated $6 million annually. Though the province is very prescriptive on how that money can be used — for the long term success of the resort — Wilhelm-Morden said some of the money pays for operating the resort, such as village landscaping, the free village shuttle, and RCMP costs.

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