Mayor Dan Curtis announced the city’s operating budget on Dec. 10. It includes a 2.3 per cent tax increase for property owners. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse operating budget proposes a property tax hike of 2.3 per cent.

If approved, the property tax increase will cost the average homeowner another $69

Whitehorse residents will see a 2.3 per cent property tax increase if the city’s new operating budget goes through.

The budget was presented during a regular council meeting on Dec. 10.

The operating budget differs from the $29-million capital budget, which passed third reading at the same meeting.

“The capital budget makes important investments in infrastructure that are needed to deliver key municipal services such as water and waste systems, roads, parks and recreation facilities, trails and fire protection,” said Mayor Dan Curtis.

“The operating budget, on the other hand, covers the cost of services such as transit, road maintenance, snow removal, and recreation programs. It ensures the city of Whitehorse always has enough lifeguards, accountants, engineers, planners, firefighters, bylaw officers and many other employees to deliver the city’s programs and services.”

The total proposed amount required to cover that in 2019 is $81 million. Half of this money comes from fees and government grants, while half comes from taxes.

Curtis said the property tax increase will cost the average homeowner another $69. He also said the average commercial property owner will pay an additional $363, and the water and sewer rate will increase by 2.76 per cent in 2019.

“This is well below the four per cent in last year’s provisional budget for 2019 and the lowest water and sewer rate increase since 2013,” he said, adding that monthly residential charges for solid waste will rise 12.8 per cent, from $11.05 to $12.47.

“The sheer volume of waste needing to be professionally handled has increased significantly,” he said. “The City does not control what people consume and thus, must constantly adapt to the waste that comes into the waste management facility.”

Curtis also mentioned line items including supporting the National Aboriginal Hockey Tournament, the city’s compost program, operation and maintenance of an improved skateboard park, and the addition of a development officer position within the land and building services department.

Curtis said this position will review and implement efficiency changes involving technology.

There will also be increases to the city’s development incentives budget, which “is intended to encourage strategic development within Whitehorse.” To date, Curtis said there have been 134 applications approved under the policy.

The plan passed first reading. A public input session will take place on Jan. 14. Residents are invited to attend, and to submit feedback on the plan in writing. The operating budget can be found online at whitehorse.ca.

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

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