The municipality is upping its Fee for Service contributions by more than $160,000 to four key non-profits in 2015.
Whistler Animals Galore (WAG), the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, the Whistler Arts Council (WAC) and the Whistler Museum and Archives Society are each getting a bump in funding in 2015 for a total municipal contribution of $1,018,700. Last year, the combined total was $856,800.
This is the first increase in funding for all after the three-year agreement spanning from 2012 to 2014.
"We heard from them how their funding had been frozen for the last two or three years yet costs and demand for service were increasing," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden at Tuesday's council meeting. "I think I speak for all of us when I say that... the work that these organizations do is also very impressive and there isn't much debate that these funds are going to be well employed."
The biggest contribution goes to the WAC at $618,700. WAC has the biggest budget of the four. This compares to the $80,000 Fee for Service contribution to WAG, which operates on a much smaller budget.
Though the four organizations range in mandate and the services each provide, there is a common theme — labour costs and operational costs are higher than they were three years ago.
Still, there is a caveat and a word of caution from the municipal general manager of resort experience Jan Jansen. In his staff report Jansen wrote:
"Moving forward it is incumbent on the recipients of Fee for Service Funding to explore operational efficiencies, means by which services are delivered and other sources of funding to manage escalating costs and ensure flexibility around future funding considerations."
It costs $248,000 annually to run Whistler's animal shelter — Whistler Animals Galore.
For the last three years the annual Fee for Service contribution has been $60,000.
In 2015 it will jump to $80,000 with a request for maintain that funding through until 2017. This is a 25 per cent increase in funding and the municipal portion represents 32 per cent of WAG's annual budget.
The increase is in part directed to labour costs to recruit, train and manage WAG's volunteer base.
Whistler Arts Council
The municipality, through the increase in its Fee for Service, will account for almost half of WAC's budget in 2015.
This does not include other specific WAC initiatives such as the Whistler Street Entertainment, New Year's Eve at Millennium Place and Family Apres, which are funded from another source.
For the last three years the municipal WAC contribution was $536,800. This year represents a 15 per cent increase to $618,700 that would be used to cover increased costs to deliver programs, event and general operations.
In her application, WAC's executive director Doti Niedermayer wrote: "Success in increasing building usage and commercial rentals since 2012 has been accompanied by an increase of 23 per cent in wages, even though current salaries are still not in any way competitive with similar salaries elsewhere, creating a significant challenge for WAC to attract and retain qualified staff. We have experienced significant turnover with the loss of senior programming, development and operations managers in 2014. Replacement staff have come in at higher wages creating a need for an increase in budget for basic salaries in 2015, as well as anticipated small increases to long-term staff over time."
Whistler Museum & Archives Society
The museum is getting a 10 per cent bump in funding this year to cover increased operational costs.
The Fee for Service agreement is going from $150,000 to $165,000. This represents 55 per cent of the museum's annual budget, which is $298,000.
Whistler Chamber of Commerce
The chamber requested $155,000, up from $110,000. Council approved $145,000.
The chamber will also received a further $10,000 for #TheMostStoked campaign, a seasonal campaign developed as a result of the low snow conditions in 2014 and continued this season.
The money is a portion of the chamber's $740,000 annual budget.