$280 Million in Capital Spending
Finance Minister Sandy Silver tabled his second budget of his mandate Thursday, a continuation of his first budget, spending frugal. The budget is close to $1.5 billion with $280 million in capital spending, a decrease of 10 percent from last year. The government admits there will not be a lot of growth.
The modest revenue improvements are expected to come in higher levels of labour, with tax revenues projected to be positive. For First Nations the government highlights $1.5 million for First Nations housing projects, $550,000 for land based healing, $50,000 for the planning of a new school with the Kluane First Nation and $170,000 to support cultural camps and Indigenous events in Yukon Parks. $150,000 will go to the Kwanlin Dun First Nation’s Jackson Lake Healing Camp.
The government tabled its five-year capital plan with the budget, yet it lacks financial details. Finance officials say this to prevent tender bids having a starting point of expenditures. A new health centre for Old Crow has been pushed to start in 2020/21. The government plans on spending $41 million to maintain and upgrade community infrastructure such as water, sewer and wastewater. The Ross River suspension bridge will see capital dollars this year. Mayo, Dawson, Carmacks, Teslin and Watson Lake will see investments in water, recreation and road infrastructure. The Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation will see construction of green energy for Moosehide Village. Shakwak spending for the north Alaska Highway is projected at $2 million, but the capital plan does not see investments past this year. The Dempster Highway fiber optic line will receive $11.8 million for planning. $6.8 million will be allocated for a new track and field facility at F.H. Collins high school.
Silver’s government ran a deficit of $4.5 million for the end of the 2017 fiscal year. That deficit is expected to remain unchanged this year. The government is not expected to go to a surplus until 2021, an election year. There will be no new changes to income taxes, no new fee increases and no news on the expected carbon tax, which is to start in 2019.
(Dan Jones Whitehorse Mar. 1 2018)