City slows tax increase

Whitehorse property owners will get a bit of a break on their taxes this year. The city has decided to raise property taxes by three per cent this year instead of the four per cent it originally projected.

Whitehorse property owners will get a bit of a break on their taxes this year.

The city has decided to raise property taxes by three per cent this year instead of the four per cent it originally projected.

To reduce the tax burden on property owners, several things had to be tweaked in this year’s $63-million operations budget, which was tabled at the city council meeting Monday.

“Setting budgets in a time of tremendous growth and keeping taxes low isn’t easy,” said deputy mayor Ranj Pillai in the budget speech.

To keep the tax increase down to three per cent, the mill rate for property has been rolled back 11 per cent this year.

“We’re going to see a $2-million increase in tax revenue over all,” said Robert Fendrick, the city’s director of administrative services.

For the average property owner that translates into a $29 increase on a bill of $2,130.

Commercial property owners will see an increase of $843, bringing their average bill to $13,498.

In addition to reducing the changes in the mill rate, several capital projects were also put on hold.

Landscaping for the Canada Games Centre and First Avenue, designs for downtown construction on Ogilvie Street, and unpaved road construction are all going to be put off.

New lockers for the city’s Wellness Centre as well as new thermal imaging cameras for the fire department will have to wait as well.

The city is also reducing its information systems staff by one position and will not be hiring a new training officer for the fire department.

In an unprecedented move, the city will also transfer $1.9 million out of reserves to bolster the budget.

“Council has directed that they want to cushion the taxation increase to the taxpayers so we’re going to use our built-up funds to do that and that’s our reserves,” said Fendrick. “It’s not something that we’ve done as a normal practice in the past. We don’t really have a strong past precedent for it.”

First reading of the budget passed Monday. Second and third reading are scheduled for April 10.

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com