Mayor Dan Curtis speaks during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on March 9, 2020. Whitehorse property owners can expect their 2021 property tax bills to rise by less than a per cent if the operating budget for the year is adopted as proposed. “A minimal tax increase allows the city to maintain its many existing services and programs, while also supporting important initiatives such as climate change mitigation and enhanced bylaw enforcement,” Curtis said. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Mayor Dan Curtis speaks during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on March 9, 2020. Whitehorse property owners can expect their 2021 property tax bills to rise by less than a per cent if the operating budget for the year is adopted as proposed. “A minimal tax increase allows the city to maintain its many existing services and programs, while also supporting important initiatives such as climate change mitigation and enhanced bylaw enforcement,” Curtis said. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Minimal increase proposed for Whitehorse property taxes

Budget would see 0.34 per cent tax increase

Whitehorse property tax bills would rise by less than a per cent — 0.34 per cent — if the City of Whitehorse’s proposed operating budget for the year is adopted as proposed.

The $88-million spending plan was unveiled at Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 11 meeting with council members passing first reading of the budget bylaw.

Along with outlining the tax increase — which translates into an anticipated average tax bill of $2,544, or $9 more than last year’s average bill — potential changes to other fees and charges for 2021 were also highlighted.

Those on the city water and sewer system will not see those fees rise, continuing to pay $85.85 for the services, while waste/compost collection rates would rise by 2.76 per cent, bringing the monthly bill for standard residential collection up to $12.95 per month from $12.60.

Rentals and passes for the Canada Games Centre and city parks as well as advertising rates in the city’s Active Living Guide would also rise by 1.5 per cent as it typically does every year in September.

In his five-page budget speech, Mayor Dan Curtis pointed out it is through the operating budget that the city pays for everyday services such as transit, road maintenance, snow removal and recreation programs.

“This budget allows us to move forward in a fiscally responsible way and to live within our means, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic impacts,” Curtis said, going on to reflect on 2020 as “one of the most challenging years in our community’s history.

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected plans and projects in many municipalities across the country, we are proud to say our projects have not experienced any major delays.”

The city will continue monitoring the impact of the pandemic on the city’s budget, he said.

“We know that residents and businesses have suffered in 2020, and we have worked very hard to keep our property taxes low in an attempt to alleviate some of that financial hardship,” he said.

The proposed 0.34 per cent tax increase is below the 2.2 per cent increase that had originally been projected in 2020 and is the lowest tax increase in more than a decade, the mayor emphasized.

“A minimal tax increase allows the city to maintain its many existing services and programs, while also supporting important initiatives such as climate change mitigation and enhanced bylaw enforcement,” Curtis said.

To that end, the city is planning to hire two new positions — an environmental coordinator for the operations department and another bylaw officer.

The environmental coordinator will oversee corporate energy management mainly for city buildings and, “to a lesser extent,” city vehicles.

“This helps the city achieve actions around climate change mitigation and adaptation, directly addressing council’s declaration of a climate change emergency in September 2019,” he said. “Moreover, it will support the city’s efforts towards environmental sustainability by managing corporate energy emissions and capital projects related to energy reduction.”

As for the hiring of a new bylaw officer, Curtis pointed to the growth Whitehorse has experienced in recent years, noting that has resulted in increased public awareness and greater expectations around compliance and enforcement of city bylaws.

“This officer will help conduct more in-depth investigations, enforce bylaws and patrol our phenomenal trails, which have seen greater use as more residents explore our wilderness due to the public health emergency,” Curtis said.

The city’s growth has meant more taxpayers in the city “who share the cost of additional services, allows us to add these positions while keeping the property tax increase low.”

In an interview following council’s Jan. 11 meeting, Curtis said growth is also playing a role in the city’s ability to keep water and sewer rates stable.

While fees for solid waste will rise 2.75 per cent, the mayor noted that is largely due to the renewal in 2020 of three contracts for operators at the landfill.

In reflecting on the lower increases to taxes and water/sewer bills, Curtis also highlighted the financial help of the federal and territorial governments in dealing with the impacts of COVID. He said there’s a number of cities throughout Canada that are facing substantial tax increases due to the impacts of COVID.

“Fortunately, the city is well-positioned to rebound from the challenges posed in 2020,” he said. “We aren’t in a position where we have to cut any programs or services, and we are very thankful for that.”

While the city has worked to keep the tax increase low, Curtis also noted in a post-meeting interview that the city recognizes a number of residents have lost jobs or are on reduced working hours due to COVID and may have trouble paying taxes. City staff, he said, can work with individuals on payment plans and making other arrangements to accommodate those who need it.

With first reading of the operating budget now passed, a public input session on the proposed spending plan will be held Jan. 25.

Residents are invited to submit their comments in writing to publicinput@whitehorse.ca or to the city clerk’s office at city hall.

A report on the public input will come forward Feb. 1 with council expected to vote on the final readings of the budget Feb. 8.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

Whitehorse city council

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Yukon survey querying transportation between communities has already seen hundreds of participants and is the latest review highlighting the territory’s gap in accessibility. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Multiple reports, survey decry lack of transportation between Yukon communities

A Community Travel survey is the latest in a slew of initiatives pointing to poor accessibility

Mobile vaccine team Team Balto practises vaccine clinic set-up and teardown at Vanier Catholic Secondary School. Mobile vaccine teams are heading out this week to the communities in order to begin Moderna vaccinations. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mobile vaccine teams begin community vaccinations

“It’s an all-of-government approach”

The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on Jan. 19. As developers move forward with plans for a housing development that would feature 16 micro-units, they are asking city council for a zoning change that would reduce the number of required parking spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Developer asks for zoning change

Would reduce the number of required parking spaces

The Liard First Nation is preparing to enter negotiations for self-governance with the territorial and federal governments. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)
Liard First Nation preparing to enter self-governance negotiations with Yukon, federal governments

Chief Stephen Charlie seeking an agreement separate from “dead end” UFA

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Jan. 20, 2021

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Most Read