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Every time the provincial government announces a new measure to cut some of the $750 million it now says must be pared... prospective municipal politicians should take note. Tuesday night’s speech by Premier Glen Clark was just to prepare us for what is coming. In Whistler’s case, most people understand municipal finances will change as we get closer to buildout. But municipalities are at the bottom of the political food chain, subject to provincial and federal government decisions on cost sharing, transfer payments and funding programs. And with both the federal and provincial governments trying to find ways to save money rather than spend it, the status quo for funding municipal programs is not going to last long. Premier Clark has already announced municipal grants will be cut, he just hasn’t said how much — which will make it interesting for finance director’s to try and budget. The deadline for provisional budgets to be submitted to Victoria is Dec. 2; what the premiere announces between now and then is anybody’s guess. Oh, and the new councils will be sworn in about that time, too. If the province had its financial house in order it would be a lot easier for local governments to plan for their fiscal years. But, as the premier has said many times in the last couple of months, economic forecasts are not an exact science. Therefore, he and his government are scrambling, making it up as they go. They won’t increase personal taxes — that was a campaign promise. So local governments can expect to be hit with a lot of the cost saving/revenue producing measures: gambling is still alive, infrastructure cost sharing has just about dried up, more local assistance will be requested for aspects of education, the solid waste management plans every regional district must complete will have an impact...

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