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Whitehorse budget battle starts with tax skirmish

The Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce is annoyed the city says tax increases are necessary before consultation even starts.

The 2014 Whitehorse budget is stirring-up controversy, even before it's released.

There's a public meeting Oct. 10 for citizens to say what - and what should not - be in the budget. There's also an online questionnaire.

Rick Karp, the president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, says one of the questions assumes there will be a tax increase. He says that should still be up for debate.

“To say at this time when you're just entering the budget process and asking for public consultation, to say openly that there's going to be a property tax increase is a little premature,” Karp says.

Karp adds it's good that budget consultations are starting early this year. But he says it's difficult for people to make informed comments about the budget.

He wishes the city would release a proposed budget so people have an idea what's being planned. Karp says an updated version of the current budget should also be available.

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis says the council will keep tax increases as low as possible.

"You know I certainly didn't get into office to start hiking up taxes, but if we can keep them as low as we possibly can, without getting into debt, and that's not something we will entertain, we are not going to leave a debt load to have to service for the citizens to come next," Curtis said.

City staff have said there must be a tax increase to maintain the city’s current level of services.

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