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

Just Posted

Lorraine Kuhn is seen with one of the many volleyball teams she coached. (Photo submitted by Sport Yukon)
The Yukon Sports Hall of Fame inducts the late Lorraine Kuhn

Lorraine Kuhn became the newest member of the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame for her work in growing volleyball amongst other sports

File Photo
A Yukon judge approved dangerous offender status for a man guilty of a string of assaults in 2020.
Yukon judge sentences dangerous offender to indefinite prison term

Herman Peter Thorn, 51, was given the sentence for 2020 assaults, history of violence

Crystal Schick/ Yukon News A former residential school in the Kaska Dena community of Lower Post will be demolished on June 21. Crystal Schick/ Yukon News
Lower Post residential school demolition postponed

On June 21, the old residential school in Lower Post will be demolished and new ground on a multi-cultural centre will be broken

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced 29 new COVID-19 cases on June 19 and community transmission among unvaccinated individuals. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs record-high 29 new COVID-19 cases

F.H. Collins prom attendees and some Porter Creek Grade 9 students are instructed to self-isolate as community transmission sweeps through unvaccinated populations

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before using it on Nov. 24. The Yukon government is reopening the drive-thru option on June 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Drive-up COVID-19 testing opening June 18 in Whitehorse

The drive-up testing will be open from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. everyday and increase testing capacity by 33 spots

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council at its June 14 meeting

Murray Arsenault sits in the drivers seat of his 1975 Bricklin SV1 in Whitehorse on June 16. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bringing the 1975 Bricklin north

Murray Arsenault remembers his dad’s Bricklin, while now driving his own

A presumptive COVID case was found at Seabridge Gold’s 3 Aces project. (file photo)
Presumptive COVID-19 case reported at mine in southeast Yukon

A rapid antigen rest found a presumptive COVID case on an incoming individual arriving at the 3Aces project

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

Most Read