Municipal staff presented its quarterly financial report to council Tuesday (Sept. 4), the first in years, and by most indications the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is on pace to match the budget it has set out for this year.
The report, presented by Ken Roggeman, the RMOW’s director of finance, deals only with core municipal operations for the first six months of this year.
Total revenue for the muni is at 83 per cent of the annual budget midway through 2012, although it bears taking note that certain revenue streams, such as property taxes and grants, are frontloaded to the start of the year.
“We are very dependent on property taxes,” said Roggeman, highlighting that approximately 56 per cent of the RMOW’s revenue, almost $41.2 million, comes from this source.
Another significant source of revenue for Whistler is the provincially provided Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding, given to eligible British Columbian resort communities to help finance programs and services geared towards developing tourism initiatives.
RMI funding for Whistler was set at $6.35 million for 2012, portioned out throughout the year.
“We received some (RMI) money early in the year, and again later in the year, so it does skew the results a little bit,” said Roggeman.
Total divisional expenditures for the municipality tracked at 47 per cent of the budget, approximately $25.5 million.
The division with the highest expenditure total was Infrastructure Services, which spent roughly $10.6 million, 48 per cent of its operating budget.
Across the board, municipal divisions spent under 50 per cent of their projected budgets. The Resort Experience department, which aims to develop and maintain Whistler’s tourism economy, sat at 41 per cent of its operating budget. This can be attributed to the fact that many of the RMOW’s Festivals, Events and Animation program costs will be incurred later in the year.
Municipal net project expenditures, which refers to project costs less any external funding, sat at approximately 20 per cent of the annual budget.
“A significant amount of project costs are not received until after the second quarter of the fiscal year, and, not all budgeted project activities will necessarily take place during the fiscal year due to unplanned or unforeseen factors,” read the staff report.
The municipal initiative to provide regular public financial reports was inspired by the RMOW’s Council Action Plan, released in February, which prioritized financial accountability and transparency.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden expressed her appreciation for Whistler’s first quarterly financial report in years.
“It’s taken us until September to get this report in shape because we were starting with nothing. This is the first time we’ve seen a quarterly report in this organization… in many, many, many years. I would like to acknowledge and thank the staff for working hard to prepare this report,” she said.
Coun. Duane Jackson hopes the report was only the first step in garnering the public’s input on the RMOW’s financial operations.
“I think we’re welcoming feedback because this is the first time… It allows us to think more about future year budgets because it gives us more information on a quarterly basis,” he said. “It just gives us a bit more transparency and clarity.”