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RDN looks to split ICF funding over two-year term

As the deadline to approve its 2013-17 financial plan looms closer, the Regional District of Nanaimo continues to look for ways to alleviate the burden on taxpayers.

During its committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, directors approved a staff recommendation to split the $877,000 grant-in-aid being provided to the Island Corridor Foundation, over a two-year period.

Doing so would bring the overall tax rate increase for the regional district’s general services down to 5.8 per cent from 7.1.

“It creates a much smaller impact in 2013,” said Wendy Idema, RDN director of financial services.

In November, the regional district board approved a $945,000 request from the Island Corridor Foundation to establish passenger rail service on Vancouver Island via a one-time grant-in-aid. The money is part of a $3.2 million total pledged by five regional districts on the Island. In the RDN’s case, it is conditioned on the foundation providing a solid agreement with VIA Rail.

Since that time, staff have worked with the foundation to determine if an alternative approach to providing the money could be found. Approximately $68,000 of that amount is being covered by Strategic Community Investment Funds, leaving staff to work the remaining $877,000 into the 2013 budget.

Under the recommendation, the RDN would provide the money to the foundation in two ‘packets’ distributed over two budget years, 2013 and 2014, in the amounts of $404,500 and $472,500, respectively.

The 2014 amount would be paid out early in the year through reserves that would be replaced following the approval of the 2014 budget.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, staff presented highlights of the 2013-17 financial plan.

Operating revenues are projected to increase from nearly $80 million in 2013 to just under $90 million in 2017, while operating expenditures will increase to $81 million in 2017, from $73 million in 2013.

Significant plan impacts over the next four years will include transit service expansions, regional and community parks acquisitions and maintenance, as well as $61 million for secondary treatment for southern community wastewater by 2018, and $32 million for expansion of the northern community wastewater plant.

Staff anticipate that grant funding, reserves and development cost charges will help mitigate the impact.

“You always hope for grant funding from the province or the federal government,” Idema said.

The final version of the 2013 budget will be presented at the district’s next committee of the whole meeting on March 12.

Budget summaries are available online at the district’s website. Please visit www.rdn.bc.ca and select the finances tab under ‘services.’

Residents can direct questions, concerns or suggestions via e-mail to corpsrv@rdn.bc.ca or by calling 250-390-4111.

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