RDN board gets overview of proposed 2018 budget

Total operating revenues for 2018 are expected to go up $99.2 million

The Regional District of Nanaimo board this week got a look at its proposed 2018 budget and how it will impact each member jurisdicition.

Those impacts include a tax cut for Parksville residents and a small rate hike of $1 per $100,000 in assessed home value in Qualicum Beach.

The report was presented by director of finance Wendy Idema and her staff at the board’s committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, Nov. 28., 2017 It includes a number of major initiatives planned for 2018.

Idema indicated that several factors affect the budget. They include legislated wastewater, solid waste, water and service standards and demands for services such as recreation and parks.

The good news, Idema said, is that the current economic indicators for growth in Canada and on Vancouver Island have been favourable and have had a positive impact on assessments and tax rates. They include lower unemployment on Vancouver Island, down to 4.0 per cent as of October from 5.8 per cent last year. At the same time, housing prices at the end of October were up, with Nanaimo experiencing a 15.9 per cent increase and Parksville Qualicum Beach 16.8 per cent.

Total operating revenues for 2018 are expected to rise to $99.2 million from $94.3 million in 2017. A $3.3 million property tax revenue increase over last year is attributed to significant capital programs that are already underway and will continue for next year. They include wastewater services, the Englishman River Joint Venture and other utility services, as well as increases for fire services and the transit service expansions.

Operating revenues are higher than 2017 by $1 million, largely due to increased fee revenue estimates in solid waste and building inspection as well as general increases across other departments.

The total expenditures expected for 2018 have yet to be finalized as some external factors still need to be addressed. They include the pending collective agreement, the addition of two new board members and the 2018 municipal elections, ICBC rate increases, interest rates, municipal building permits, which are down 7.3 per cent to date, extreme weather events, NAFTA outcomes and the BC Hydro rate freeze.

For recreation and parks next year, the RDN has set a $17.2 million budget that will pay for some of the projects that include implementation of the Recreation Services Master Plan for D69 which is estimated to cost between $75,000 and $100,000; Recreation Services Alternative Delivery for Electoral Area H, $35,000; and Errington Park Design and Palmer Road Trail Construction, $30,000.

The expenditure for regional and community utilities is budgeted at $87 million next year and will be applied toward some significant projects such as the Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre Secondary Treatment upgrade and expansion ($24 million), Bowser Sewer/Wastewater Treatment project ($10.7 million), Englishman River Water Service ($2.8 million), and Nanoose Bay Peninsula Water Pump Station ($1.7 million).

For transportation and emergency services, the total spending budget is going to be $38.8 million to cover transit expansion of 5000 hours ($332,000), Woodgrove exchange upgrade ($600,000), review of the RDN’s fire services operations and structure ($65,000), fire hall upgrades in Coombs, Errington, Dashwood and Bow Horn Bay ($900,000) and replacement of truck in Errington ($921,000).

The impact of next year’s budget to the three municipalities will be minimal. The 2018 tax rate per $100,000 of assessment in Nanaimo will go up from $91.60 to $100.90, while in Qualicum Beach the rate will increase from $138.40 to $139.40. The City of Parksville will see its taxes decrease from $167.40 to $165.80.

In the Electoral Areas, the changes are on average minimal except for Area B where rates would go up $4.70 per $100,000 and Area G which will experience a hike of $2.40 to their annual rates.

The board received the report and directed staff to address outstanding budget items for 2018 and also finalize the five-year 2018-2022 financial plan.

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