Thank goodness they didn’t call it a perfect storm.
“Conspiracy of events,” is how Mayor Kenny referred to it. I’m not sure what that tells us about Ken but the armchair psychologist in me managed to be amused and distracted for a few moments — okay, to be honest, I was looking for any reason to procrastinate on a deadline — by the image of Ken as a conspiracy theorist. It builds neatly on the one-against-many role he played for so many years as a lone voice of reason on council.
But I’ll be truly heartened if we manage to get through Friday evening’s Dialogue Café on the muni’s belt-bustin’ budget without someone invoking the perfect storm cliché, a phrase grown trite and irritating by witless politicians invoking it to obfuscate their own culpability in budgetary excesses.
According to conventional wisdom around muni hall, there are three culprits masterminding this conspiracy: the province, the GVRD and garbage. Readers who are paying any attention at all may be rubbing their eyes in disbelief right now. But let us suspend disbelief for a moment and run with conventional wisdom.
The province cut, perhaps, $2.5 million bucks out of Whistler’s budget when they pandered to taxpayers instead of hotels and came down on the side of suckers who’d purchased overpriced condos. They ruled against continuing to gouge some property owners when they refused to create a new, blended tax classification for strata “hotels.” While there’s no doubt the privately-owned condo dressed in hotel clothing — the backbone of Whistler’s accommodation sector — is neither commercial nor residential, creating a third classification overtaxed their tiny minds. Given a choice of sticking it to Whistler or continuing to stick it to condo owners, they ruled in a way many thought was predictable.
One might argue staff and council should have seen it coming and planned accordingly but then, one might as well be wishing pigs could fly. No government ever plans for decreases in tax revenues; they simply react to it.
The GRVD’s contribution to our budgetary mess is all about what the various municipalities downvalley settled on their staff. Whistler plays Simon Says when it comes to wages and pays staff accordingly. That’s but one reason so many people wish they had muni jobs. While I don’t begrudge staff a nickel of their pay, there are many Whistleratics who wish they lived here and earned as though they lived in the Lower Mainland. Based on some of their remarks, they begrudge staff’s pay rate more than enough to make up for my forbearance on the subject.