How much will Whistler’s tax increase be in 2022?
Whistler’s mayor and council gave their approval to the proposed 2022 budget directions at the Dec. 21 council meeting, but the decision was not unanimous.
The guidelines propose a 6.72% property tax increase and 3% increases in charges on sewers, solid waste and water plots.
Councilor Ralph Forsyth was the only dissenting vote, noting that he said during the 2018 election campaign that he would never support a tax hike of more than four percent.
“So I won’t, but not just because I’m a stubborn malcontent, and I think it should only be four percent.” When it passes as I suppose it will, I will defend it with all the vigor of my colleagues who support it because many of their reasons are justifiable, ”said Forsyth. “But I can rest in peace [with] my opposition to that because there are several things here that I have already voted against.
As she explained at the Budget Open House on Nov. 18, Budget 2022 aims for “real resilience,” said Chief Financial Officer Carlee Price, a state where the municipality can respond to new challenges as it progresses. whether they occur (such as pandemics, climate change or cyberattacks) while remaining in good financial health.
But to get there, “some funding changes are needed,” Price said. “[And] Budget 2022 addresses several existing challenges in a measured way.
After “smaller than necessary” tax requisitions in previous years, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) must make up for “a long period of limited reserve contributions,” Price added.
“In this case, we are proposing a multi-year process,” she said.
“This is not the kind of problem that can be solved in a single year – 2022, however, marks an important start in the direction of these reserve contributions… delaying the first leg of this trip is dangerous for the health of the budget at long term of the organization. “
As it stands, RMOW’s reserves are too low relative to its asset base and growing too slowly, Price said.
Projecting through 2049, RMOW is expected to spend $ 8 million annually to renew existing assets (plus an additional $ 600,000 per year), but currently contributes only $ 6.3 million to the general fund, a t -she explains.
“If we assume that it takes four years to reach the right level of contributions to the general capital fund, that requires an increase of approximately $ 500,000 each year for the next four,” she said.
Taking into account the estimated annual increase in costs of $ 600,000, RMOW must set aside an additional $ 1.1 million each year until 2026 before the year-over-year increases can be reduced. again lower.
“That’s a tax increase of about 2.5% a year just to bring those reserves back to healthy levels,” Price said.
“These numbers will change slightly as the work on the asset management plan continues,” [but] we don’t expect them to change drastically.
Being the unique (and relatively young) community that it is, much of Whistler’s infrastructure was installed in one go, and everything needs to be replaced around the same time.
“We are seeing a different replacement model than what might be evident in other communities, and some of the reasons for the large increases in required reserve contributions relate to this,” said Price.
“In the first 30 years, for example, there weren’t a lot of those big, expensive assets that needed wholesale repairs and replacements. We see this much more frequently today. You can expect the same in the future.
Like every year, the tax hike will impact households differently.
In an example provided by the RMOW, a property valued at $ 1.5 million might expect a property tax increase of $ 155 next year, while a property valued at $ 4 million might see an increase in property taxes. increase of $ 415.
The change to sewage, water and solid waste charges will equate to an increase of approximately $ 36.15 for all properties.
Although residential appraisals in Whistler are expected to rise sharply this year, commercial properties are likely to remain stable, which should be good news for business owners after commercial property taxes rose significantly last year, Coun noted. . John Grills.
“If their taxes are relatively stable or slightly up, it’s definitely better than what they’ve experienced this year, so hopefully that will turn out,” he said.
Overall, the board supported the campaign for financial resilience.
“I’ve had some interesting conversations this week about the budget, and you can’t have it both ways,” Coun said. Arthur De Jong. “I had requests [about] specific services; accelerate climate action and FireSmart, but don’t increase taxes, let alone reserves and inflation, ”he said.
“So I find 6.72 and 3% are carefully measured, and we can’t end up in quicksand of financial reserve, so I certainly support that. “
Mayor Jack Crompton agreed and thanked staff and council for their work on the budget.
“I think it’s important as a community that we keep our eyes on the horizon,” he said. “I think there is a lot of work to be done around the climate, around recovering from COVID, and to make sure this is a resilient and robust organization – this budget does, and I am grateful for the work you put into this. “
The regulations for the five-year financial plan will be returned to the board at the first meeting of 2022, scheduled for January 11.
Municipal tax regulations must be adopted before May 15.
Find more information at Whistler.ca/budget.