By the pricking of our thumbs, something wicked this way comes.
And when we say wicked, we mean that in a good way.
This week, council was presented with the first quarterly financial report in, well, let's just say a long while. This is a very good thing.
Fiscal responsibility for taxpayer's dollars is one of the most important power any government administration holds. With great power comes, you guessed it, great responsibility.
But for citizens and politicians to be able to gauge whether or not bureaucrats are managing the purse strings prudently, we need regular and thorough reporting procedures.
Until now that has been lacking and it is a credit to both council, through its action plan, and administration, by beginning to provide regular financial reports, that we have entered a new phase of government accountability in Whistler.
If you are interested, we Questionables would encourage you to check out the report (click link at right) for a great understanding of the expenses and revenues for the first six months of operations and capital projects broken down by department.
It may seem like dry subject matter, but as this is a new process, officials are keen for feedback from the community, making it worthwhile to spend some time reviewing.
The Question has a couple of suggestions we would like to throw into the ring, acknowledging this is a process that will be developed over time. These are more helpful hints than criticisms.
First, having something to compare the financials against would be nice. For example, last year's financial position from the first two quarters would work nicely.
Our second, and final suggestion (for now) is that council should establish parameters by which if variances in the budget occur, they must be explained in the report. Maybe 10 per cent or $10,000 as an initial threshold. That means that if an expense or revenue item varies by either, there is a note of explanation in the financial report. Often, these variances will be the result of timing in the fiscal cycle, but by establishing a clear threshold for reporting, council may avoid nasty budget surprises at the end of the year.
Plaza noise a moot point
A report on noise from Whistler Olympic Plaza concerts shows decibel levels at surrounding locations were not significantly different than times when there are no events going on.
We already knew you can't please everybody all the time, but this issue embodies that cliché.
In this case, it is the benefit of the many, i.e. those who want to listen to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, that should outweigh the few, i.e. the handful of those who want peace and quiet in the cetnre of a resort town.
Let's stop wringing our hands about a few squeaky wheels and pump up the volume already. We're paying for this music — we might as well hear it.