Whitehorse city councillors who called for lower taxes satisfied with operating budget

Two Whitehorse city councillors who called for more fiscal responsibility during their election campaigns last year say they're satisfied with the proposed operating budget set to be voted on next Tuesday.

Two Whitehorse city councillors who called for more fiscal responsibility during their election campaigns last year say they’re satisfied with the proposed operating budget set to be voted on next Tuesday.

Both Dan Boyd and Samson Hartland said they wanted to tackle tax increases and keep the City’s spending habits in check when they ran for a seat on city council.

In February, council unveiled the 2016 operating budget. It features a 1.7 per cent increase in property taxes for both residents and businesses, the same as in 2015.

Your typical Whitehorse homeowner will pay another $39 in property taxes this year, provided the city passes its budget at the end of the month. The average Whitehorse business would pay an extra $250.

The City is anticipating the same increase next year and a 2.3 per cent increase in 2018.

Boyd said one of the reasons the budget was delayed this year is because council and administration worked so hard to get the tax increase as low as possible.

“And we did achieve a certain amount of success, as we’ve reduced costs by about $330,000,” he said.

“That’s equal to about a one per cent tax increase.”

But Boyd said he would have liked to see even more cuts. He had hoped to lower the tax increase to 1.5 per cent, he said.

After several meetings and an endless back and forth between members of council and administration, the 1.7 per cent increase represents what most people could agree on, he added.

“There was a feeling this was a spot where the majority of council could live with,” he said.

“I think we did reasonably well, all things considered, to achieve this.”

At Monday evening’s council meeting, Valeria Braga, the city’s manager of financial services, talked about some difficult cuts that were made to the upcoming budget.

Departmental requests denied included increased patrols on the waterfront and trails, training for the fire department and additional building maintenance staff, among others.

Last year, Hartland said he planned on tackling the tax increase because of its impact on seniors and people with fixed incomes.

“You have builders of our community being pushed out of their homes because they can’t afford to pay the taxes anymore,” he said in August.

One challenge council and administration faced, he explained, was to try and keep property taxes to a minimum despite the increase in assessments this year.

Every other year, the Yukon government reviews and reassesses the value of over 22,000 properties and buildings in the territory.

The assessment increased by about $6,000 per building this year, Braga told council on Monday.

The City uses the government’s assessment rate and multiplies it with its own mill rate to come up with the property tax increase.

“We actually dialed back the mill rate this year and that’s a sacrifice people don’t see,” Hartland said.

Rick Karp spoke to members of council last week and encouraged them to follow Yellowknife’s model, which was to freeze taxes for 2016.

One suggestion was to take funds from the City’s many reserves in order to achieve that.

Hartland said Karp made a lot of valid points during his presentation.

“You’re right, we could go into the reserves more than we ever have before to balance the budget,” he said.

“And that’s still an option. But is that sustainable?

“What we’re hearing from our own experts is they truly believe the budget in front of us is the best we can do.”

Boyd said the City transferred $9.7 million into its reserves last year, and anticipates a transfer of $10.5 million this year.

The reserves are being built up to fund large capital projects such as the construction of two new headquarters for the City’s staff, one at the top of the Two Mile Hill and one downtown.

Both Boyd and Hartland said they’re in favour of taking a much closer look at how the City can scale down those plans and save costs.

“I’ve brought it up many times,” Boyd said, “and the reality is we’re going at it slower than originally planned.”

“We have to keep it affordable and we have a commitment not to raise taxes because of it.”

Second and third reading of the operating budget will be held on March 29.

Contact Myles Dolphin at


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

Just Posted

An avalanche warning sigh along the South Klondike Highway. Local avalanche safety instructors say interest in courses has risen during the pandemic as more Yukoners explore socially distanced outdoor activities. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News file)
Backcountry busy: COVID-19 has Yukoners heading for the hills

Stable conditions for avalanches have provided a grace period for backcountry newcomers

Several people enter the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Coast High Country Inn Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 26. The Yukon government announced on Jan. 25 that residents of Whitehorse, Ibex Valley, Marsh Lake and Mount Lorne areas 65 and older can now receive their vaccines. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Vaccine appointments available in Whitehorse for residents 65+

Yukoners 65 and older living in Whitehorse are now eligible to receive… Continue reading

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read