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Letters to the editor

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Page 5 of 6

In referring to the percentage of property taxes contributed compared to the percentage of overall assessed value, it must be remembered that hotels comprise the majority of the business class assessed value in Whistler. Being a resort community, Whistler is unique in this respect in comparison to other municipalities. The ratio of business class tax rates compared to residential is 3.21 to 1. This is why hotels contribute a larger proportion of total property tax than their percentage of total assessment roll value.

With all residential and business properties, those with a property assessment change of less than 11 per cent will pay less than the prior year in municipal taxes, while a property with an assessment change of greater than 11 per cent will pay more than the prior year.

Finally, this discussion would not be complete without referring to the losses sustained on municipal revenues due to the repeated strata hotel appeals and reclassifications. In 2001 alone, the municipality lost in the neighbourhood of $750,000 due to reclassification of the Westin Resort and Spa and the Holiday Inn from business class to residential class. Total tax revenue losses from reclassifications of strata hotel properties and classification appeals to date is now well in excess of $2 million. These revenues will never be recouped. The municipality absorbed these losses rather than passing them on to either residential or business owners. Similarly, revenue losses resulting from appeals receive the same treatment. They erode the municipality’s single largest source of revenue, impact the long-term financial sustainability of the community and reduce the ability of the municipality to respond to the basic civic service requirements demanded of a growing community.

Despite these losses, beginning in 1997 the Resort Municipality of Whistler has had to absorb the additional cost of paying for its police force for the first time (previously paid by senior governments) now at an annual cost of $2 million, weathered the loss of over $380,000 per year in provincial grants, provided for an expanded transit service which it must fund to the tune of $300,000 this year alone, and has provided expanded fire protection services.

The STOCAPs classification issues can be summarized as follows:

• Legislation governing the classification of strata hotel units was introduced in 1994 by the provincial government to provided a means for determining whether property was classified as class 1 residential or class 6 business.