Rural area taxes face increase

REgional District of Nanaimo operating costs are up

It is number crunching time at the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) but a detailed picture of the 2012 budget won’t be clear until February with adoption of the budget set for March 14.

The RDN board has received the proposed budget and the numbers presented by staff will see the budget increase by 6.7 percent over last year but several adjustments have been presented that could see the tax revenue change drop down to 6.2 per cent.

RDN chairman Joe Stanhope said the biggest increase in the budget comes from the addition of more than 5,000 hours of new transit service.

Most of the expanded service is in Nanaimo. He admitted the RDN budget is very complicated because they must have a separate budget for each of the 102 services they provide.

He said as it stands now for a $300,000 home in the northern communities the proposed tax increase over last year isn’t huge. He said for Area E it would be $7, for Area F $1, for Area G $10 and $28 for Area H.

He said the increase is bigger for Area H, which makes up Shaw Hill, Deep Bay and Bowser, because of a new bus route planned for that region.

He said there is a increase to the RDN’s tax requisition from Parksville and Qualicum Beach because both municipalities will now be contributing to the drinking water and watershed protection service as well as the Northern Community Economic Development Select Committee.

General Manager of Finance and Information Services for the RDN, Nancy Avery said there are some changes being proposed that would lessen the tax burden but she added there is still a lot of work to be done before final figures will be ready.

She said by and large taxes will likely be lower, overall. For Parksville the tax increase to the RDN is currently at 4.4 per cent and in Qualicum Beach it is at 5.4 per cent.

The RDN provides over 100 different services and each service has to have a separate budget and Avery said they have only just begun crunching the numbers. She said as it stands, their operating expenses are up about six per cent and some regions will pay more in taxes and others will not.  At a budget meeting Jan. 17, board members considered new financial requests to the 2012 budget as well as reductions to some services and cuts to capital projects. While some of the budget cuts staff recommended were approved by the directors, they still need final approval from the board and Avery said the directors may have second thoughts about some of the items so anything on the spreadsheet now could change.

It was also pointed out that cuts made this year to some capital projects will result in the costs just being deferred until next year.