Directors are looking for ways to limit a double-digit percentage tax increase proposed in the Regional District of Nanaimo 2023 budget.
Under the RDN’s preliminary 2023-27 financial plan, more than $80 million in taxes would be collected in 2023, representing an 11.3 per cent increase ($8 million) from the previous budget, noted a staff report. In all, $165 million in operation expenditures and $54 million in capital projects are listed for the coming fiscal year.
The financial plan includes $246,000 and $208,000 to City of Parksville and Town of Qualicum Beach, respectively, for fire service to RDN areas. In addition, $689,000 and $699,000 respectively is proposed to go to Dashwood and Errington fire departments for their operations.
There is also $668,000 proposed for 911 service.
Also included are the addition of 32 full-time staff positions at a cost of $2.6 million, which includes some positions being moved from part- to full-time.
At a budget meeting Tuesday, Jan. 17, Tiffany Moore, the RDN’s chief financial officer, stated that not all areas will see tax hikes of 11 per cent.
“Unlike a municipality, a single overall tax increase does not exist,” said Moore. “Each property receives a combination of the 107 services the RDN provides and as such, the financial implications vary widely by property.”
Directors nevertheless sought to bring the number down, including Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain.
“My concern is when will we be getting information about how we can mitigate this 11-per cent increase on the tax requisition … some of these staff increases is having staff start halfway through the year,” said Swain. “It staggers the actual financial impacts, so is that being considered?”
Douglas Holmes, RDN chief administrative officer, said such a move would impact the following year’s budget.
“The downside of actually not budgeting for it till, for example, the middle of the year, is that in the subsequent year, there will be another tax increase that the board can do nothing about … and that additional tax increase would follow,” he said.
Holmes added that more detailed budget information will be forthcoming.
Last year’s financial plan forecasted an increase of 13 per cent ($9 million) in tax requisition for 2023.
Further budget presentations are anticipated for Feb. 8, 9 and 14, with the RDN mandated by the B.C. government to pass a five-year financial plan bylaw by March 31.
The RDN anticipates posting the budget on its website on Friday, Feb. 3, viewable at www.getinvolved.rdn.ca/rdn-budget-talks.