Council candidate wants better understanding of taxes

Jens Nielsen says city council is in need of a tune up. The sales manager at Whitehorse Motors is running for the position of councillor in the upcoming municipal election.

Jens Nielsen says city council is in need of a tune up.

The sales manager at Whitehorse Motors is running for the position of councillor in the upcoming municipal election.

What he’s hearing on the campaign trail is people are tired of not understanding the reasons behind their tax increases, he said.

If elected, he’s hoping to find ways to make council decisions clearer and more transparent for Whitehorse citizens.

“People feel like they’re not getting what they’re paying for when taxes increase,” he said.

“The unknown is almost worse than the known.”

Property taxes in Whitehorse went up 1.7 per cent this year. That represents an extra $29 for homeowners (for a total of $2,265 per year) and $561 for business owners (for a total of $14,580 per year).

Nielsen said he’d look at every item before city council through the same lens. That means asking whether it respects taxes, if it’s a priority expense and is it common sense.

One example is city council’s plan to spend $55 million over the next three years on two new headquarters for its staff.

“I’m wondering if that kind of spending comes at the expense of infrastructure or public safety,” he said.

While the city plans to spend millions on new buildings, Porter Creek residents are complaining about potholes in their neighbourhood and Two Mile Hill Road doesn’t have any lines separating lanes, he said. “We have dated infrastructure, and I’ve also been hearing about the need for a second bridge to Riverdale,” he added.

“We need to use more common sense. That means an equal balance between what city administration recommends to council and what residents say. If we side with the city, we need to make sure people understand why, and I’m not sure that’s been done in the past.”

Born and raised in Whitehorse, Nielsen worked on Vancouver Island for 20 years before moving back permanently to the Yukon two years ago.

Looking for a way to get involved with the community, he felt like sitting on city council was the best avenue for him to contribute, he said.

“I think it’s time to send a message that the things people talk about on the street are important.”

Candidates for city council can submit their nomination papers until Sept. 24 at noon.

The municipal election is on Oct. 15.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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