Reduce; don't grow
I am prompted to write after reading the Bruce Thom letter published in the Dec. 16 Pique that offers practical non-life threatening solutions to the municipality's 2011 deficit and then reading the lead article in Pique 's community news section quoting Whistler's economic development officer regarding action to date to alleviate the deficit and the plan going forward.
Thom flags tested solutions to civic deficits and in contrast the offered solutions by the hall to deal with the deficit are inconsequential in dollar amount and the downsizing of the municipal government doesn't even get honourable mention. The difference in the approaches is very telling. In my opinion, if there is to be any credibility in the deficit exercise, the civic managers need to look inside both their 2011 budgets and the apparent iron-clad employment contracts to find the dollars needed to eliminate the deficit. Go there first and hurry seems to be the message coming from the taxpayers. The wrist ringing by the civic decision-makers regarding a meaningful contraction in services and employment levels needs to be set aside in favour of a solid internal approach to cost savings supported by a well-thought out, all-encompassing action plan.
Civic Whistler needs to be financially self-policing because it has a duty of responsibility to all of us who call Whistler home. The 2011 deficit is a small outward sign of how the mandate to provide required services to the residents is way offside with non-essential civic generated initiatives. To forge ahead with the suggested plan to collect the deficit in lieu of a plan to reduce costs is not valid and therefore not sustainable.
The size of Whistler's civic domain has been allowed to grow over the past 15 years mainly because it was marching along with the growth in the private sector and of course the build up to the big show, a well-remembered and enjoyed part of Whistler's history. However, the civic government is now being asked by a growing number of Whistler supporters to re-tool the hall to meet the new economies of scale accruing to Whistler. There is no magic in that statement and like it or not or believe it or not the reasons and need for this change are clear.
The six to eight month outlook for the economy is uncertain. This uncertainty particularly affects Whistler with a Canadian dollar at par with the US dollar, predictions of increasing interest rates and fewer European tourists. Those challenged by these predictions are travelers, real estate investors, businesses and homebuyers to the area. Given these negative events do occur as predicted, it will impact all of us who call Whistler home. The notion that those with taxing authority will ignore these facts and rely heavily on collection from the residents to reduce the deficit rather than reducing the cost of operations should have consequences.