Coun. Samson Hartland was one of two councillors that opposed the proposed $77 million operating budget for 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Whitehorse council hears first reading of $77M operations budget

‘I would like to see us, you know, try tightening up our ship a little bit’

Whitehorse’s proposed operating budget for 2018 went to first reading on Jan. 29, but not all councillors supported the $77-million plan.

Councillors Dan Boyd and Samson Hartland opposed it.

“For me, I would like to see us, you know, try tightening up our ship a little bit tighter,” said Hartland. “As time goes on and as information comes available, we’re going to be, I think, more in a position to speak to some of the details of the budget that we have some challenges with.”

Boyd said he’d like to see the budget come down from where it sits now, at $3 million more than the 2017 operating budget.

He said the non-residential tax increase of 4.15 per cent is higher than he’d like. Hartland agreed.

“We saw in our documents tonight that non-residential assessments went up 10 per cent,” said Hartland. “So that’s pretty significant for business owners.… Maybe we can do a little bit more.”

The residential tax rate rises 2.3 per cent under the proposed budget, the third lowest hike since 2006. That means the average homeowner will pay $54 more in taxes in 2018. The average commercial property will pay an extra $634.

However, Boyd said some owners of newer residential properties make $4,000 or and $5,000 property tax payments.

Boyd also noted that water and sewer rates have constantly increased in recent years, and 2018 is no different, with a four per cent increase. Water and sewer rates will rise from $78.98 to $82.14 per month.

Mayor Dan Curtis said in his address that this is necessary to maintain the city’s aging infrastructure, which includes including 187 kilometres of water pipes, and 144 kilometres of sewer pipes.

Boyd said he recognizes the effort council put into coming up with a budget that works, but he thinks there can be changes.

“For me, it’s just doing our best to keep our city as affordable as possible,” he said.

The budget is available online at whitehorse.ca.

There will be a public input session at the Feb. 12 council meeting (written submissions can be sent to budgetinput@whitehorse.ca). A report will be presented to council on Feb. 19. Second and third reading of the proposed operating budget will take place Feb. 26.

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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