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Whistler's municipal budget squeezed dry, small tax increase on horizon

Open house offers first look at the 2015 budget challenges and projects



Whistler's zero tax increase streak looks as though it's coming to an end.

At the Wednesday, Feb. 25 budget open house, municipal staff and council outlined the case for a 1.7 per cent increase in property taxes, a 1.5 per cent increase in water tax and a 1 per cent increase in sewer parcel tax in 2015.

"Talking to community members, people recognize that costs have gone up, demand for service levels have increased, and we've worked really hard over the course of the last three years to squeeze everything out of the budget that we could. And we were successful," said Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, referring to the three years of zero tax increases under the last council.

"But there was only so much room to do that and we've exhausted that now."

She called the increases on the horizon "modest."

The mayor was also pleased to see the large turnout of younger constituents - more people attended the meeting who were under 35 years old than over, which could be a first in Whistler - who there to learn more about the proposed phase three upgrades to the skate park, budgeted at more than $800,000.

"Thank you guys for putting the skateboard park in your budget for 2015," said Chris Charlebois, as he asked staff to consider adding a third garbage can to the area.

The municipal budget includes 150 capital projects to the tune of $27 million. The money to pay for that does not come from operating funds, rather reserves.

That's one of the highest capital projects budgets in recent years and it includes a $5 million upgrade to the water system in the Alpine neighbourhood.

For more of the 2015 budget pick up Pique on Thursday March 5.