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‘Conspiracy theory’ attempts to deflect culpability

The “shock and awe” suggested by council to the “sudden” budget shortfall is a puzzler with plenty of finger pointing and indignation. However, a surprising scarcity of mirrors to consult is also apparent.

The Class 1 / 6 ruling, “unforeseen” labour increases, utilities department restructures et al, somehow mystified council. “How could this have happened? We are the helpless victims of the perfect fiscal storm….” Bunk!

The obligatory request to the Finance Department to “check and recheck the balance sheets”…, “leave no stone unturned,” “we’re counting on you to turn this in the right direction” etc. etc. were all trundled out. The only plea missing was my mother’s favorite … “it’s all hands to the pumps!” I did not hear one word, or read one sentence of contrition or responsibility for the new reality by council for the new reality Version 2008.

In council chambers, one witnesses an orgy of questionable spending choices providing dubious protection for the ability to pay when “ Councilors Go Wild.” Of course demands and needs are immense and never ending.   Most are eminently worthy. But, just like every good parent has learned, council needs to learn to say “no” or “not at this time” with far greater alacrity.

One councilor offered an entreaty to staff to “do all they can to limit the impact… and lessen tax increases.” This behest made without nod to any level of council’s culpability for the 14.5 per cent tax increase on the books and on its way to a tax invoice near you!

High labour and material costs have been a Whistler reality for half a decade now. How can anyone still claim to be caught off guard? RMOW employee wages are going up, but in measured and easily calculated numbers. For example, one department’s employees are settled through 2010 — no surprises there.

That council didn’t anticipate or have a fall back plan for losing the Class 1/6 imbroglio is poor politics. “Don’t spend what you don’t have” is a very Canadian family budgeting maxim. Feel free to adopt this simple Accounting 101 lesson plan.

Good luck to staff, but councillors should look to their left and right (unless their sitting at the end of the table) for blame, answers and long term solution to this and future fiscal hiccups.

B.K. Buchholz

Whistler

The park gets a reprieve

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