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Taxes and the art of municipal maintenance

RMOW efforts to limit property tax hike to four per cent include stringent department engagement

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The WPL employs five permanent full-time staff and four permanent part-time staff. The 11 casual staff members who work on an on-call basis will bear the brunt of the reduced employment.

A public survey conducted by the WPL indicated strong support for maintaining the library's current hours, but Stara said parity among departments means there is no other choice.

"The results show that nobody wants this to happen. Nobody on the staff wants it to happen, nobody on the board wants it to happen, and nobody in the public wants it to happen. But the reality is that to not reduce our hours is to get more money from the municipality and to get them to give us more money they have to take it away from someone else," she continued. "It's really a no-win situation all around."

Solutions available to the RMOW to balance the budget without raising taxes beyond four per cent involve a blend of measures, including a thorough examination of public employees. To cut costs, RMOW has decreased employment levels where possible, essentially eliminating positions as people move on. A reduction in 13.58 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions has been made thus far, including 5.14 FTEs who were reallocated to funding by non-property tax revenues and 4.58 FTEs from the Whistler Centre for Sustainability who are no longer municipal employees. The remaining 3.87 FTEs are positions that have simply been cut.

"We have a GIS position cut in Engineering (1.0 FTE), 1.2 FTEs in utilities, and 1.25 FTEs in transportation as well as a partial cut to a position in Planning," said Lisa Landry, general manager of economic viability for RMOW. "The 2010 Games office staffing has been cut as well, but that was not funded by taxpayers in the first place, so that staffing reduction does not result in a net savings to taxpayers."

Last week RMOW identified an additional $212,000 that could be saved, including $126,000 earmarked for contingency budgets and $30,000 for village maintenance costs. They have identified another $200,000 in annual cost savings since then.

"This is being accomplished by looking hard at how we provide services, determining ways to cut expenses or generate more revenue, and we will continue that work over the next few months until we accomplish our goal of limiting it to a four per cent tax increase" continued Landry.