News » Whistler

Capital spending down $4 million in 2004 budget



The municipality is encouraging public feedback in the 2004 budget process, after releasing its Five-Year Financial Plan earlier this week.

The plan details a $45 million municipal budget, up $2 million from last year.

Copies are available at municipal hall, the Meadow Park Sport Centre and on the RMOW Web site.

The plan shows the municipality setting aside $350,000 for the Nita Lake Lodge legal defence.

Lisa Landry, manager of fiscal planning, explained this was a "broad estimate."

The money for the legal challenge comes out of the Special Projects program.

Things like the Employee Bus Pass program and a study of the River of Golden Dreams (wildland and urban interface) are also part of Special Projects.

Generally Special Projects are one-time expenditures that do not produce capital assets.

The budget states that the legal costs for Nita Lake will be funded from surplus in previous years.

Though the Special Projects budget may have jumped this year, the Capital Projects Fund has decreased by roughly $4 million this year, from more than $12 million last year to approximately $8 million. This includes all capital projects that are not part of water, sewer and solid waste.

The library is the most expensive capital project, coming in at $5.8 million library (an extra $1.1 million for the underground parking will come from a separate fund). Only $300,000 is slated for spending in 2004 for the design phase of the project.

Other capital projects include:

• $100,000 for a multi-purpose visitor information centre south of the entrance to the Callaghan valley;

• $500,000 for community space in the Spring Creek Community School, and;

• $75,000 for village bike facilities to encourage more commuter cycling.

Another significant project which is in the plans but will not come on board until 2008 is a summer theatre, which is slated to cost $600,000. There are no details on this project in the budget.

Likewise the museum, with a proposed budget of over $2 million, is planned for five years down the road.

The future of the museum was addressed at Monday’s council meeting after a long debate over the future of the library. Originally the two facilities were to be part of a $10 million building shared by the two institutions.

But unlike the library, the museum is not a municipal responsibility.

Mayor Hugh O’Reilly called the museum the "orphan" in the fallout of that joint project. He urged council that they have to come to a decision soon about their responsibilities for the library.

"At some point we’ve got to come to terms with our relationship," said O’Reilly.

Municipal Administrator Jim Godfrey cautioned council that municipal staff would not be able to address the museum concerns until the 2005 budget, once the design process for the library is better understood.

The 2004 budget also highlights the supplemental requests totalling more than $1 million.

Among those requests are a number of new positions at municipal hall, like the Deputy Administrator, a Housing Planner and two additional firefighters/inspectors.

A request for a $90,000 public relations manager position was denied.

Another interesting change in the 2004 budget deals with the Alpine Meadows fire hall. Last year’s budget projected a $2.45 million new fire hall for Alpine, which was scheduled to be built by 2006.

In the current budget the fire hall has a budget of $74,000, which will provide sewer and water lines to the old fire hall as well as a washroom facility.

There are no signs in the five-year plan to spend any more money on the fires hall after that.

For any information about the budget contact Lisa Landry at or John Nelson at . Or come to an informal question period at the next council meeting on Monday, April 19, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., which will precede the usual question and answer period at 6:30 p.m.