Whitehorse lets residents play city manager

A new online tool gives Whitehorse residents the opportunity to provide more meaningful input on the city’s budget.

A new online tool gives Whitehorse residents the opportunity to provide more meaningful input on the city’s budget.

Citizen Budget is software designed to let anyone become a city budget manager.

It gives residents the chance to indicate which programs they value the most and least.

The software, designed by Montreal-based company Open North, has been used by larger cities such as Toronto and Vancouver for a few years. Yellowknife began using it last year.

Users provide their current property value assessment and take a short survey.

By making changes to existing city programs and resources, they can see the potential impact to their user fees and taxes in real time.

For example, someone may want to increase the number of lifeguards on duty at the Canada Games Centre by two. Someone whose property is worth $250,000 would see taxes increase by $7.05 per year, according to the program.

Valerie Anderson, the city’s manager of financial services, said the software is part of an initiative to get more input from citizens.

“We’re trying to engage people in a variety of manners and this is one of them,” she said.

“We also hope to be able to be located at the Canada Games Centre in October and have people stop by a booth and do the survey at that time.”

Citizens can provide input on the upcoming budget throughout the month of October.

At the beginning of November, the information will be compiled and taken to council to help guide their decision making, Anderson said.

Residents are invited to try the software during the Budget Open House, held on Wednesday evening at City Hall Council Chambers from 5 to 7 p.m. or online at http://whitehorse.citizenbudget.com.

The draft capital budget will be presented in November while the draft operating budget will be presented in January.

Public input nights are also tentatively scheduled for November 24 and January 12.

In February, the city passed a $68 million operations and maintenance budget that included a 1.7 per cent property tax increase and a 4.7 per cent increase to water and sewer fees.

Contact Myles Dolphin at myles@yukon-news.com

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