Regional District of Nanaimo has begun deliberations for its 2022 financial plan. (News Bulletin file)

Regional District of Nanaimo has begun deliberations for its 2022 financial plan. (News Bulletin file)

Increased cybersecurity spending a consideration as RDN begins budget planning

Regional District of Nanaimo working on next financial plan

Budget discussions have started and increased staffing is being considered as the Regional District of Nanaimo’s board works on its next financial plan.

RDN directors received a report with recommendations on staffing, service level changes and capital projects at a Nov. 4 meeting. Of the 22 new full-time positions being discussed, notable additions include a superintendent of transit operations and an information technology cybersecurity analyst, costing $150,000 and $99,000 respectively.

The IT analyst is needed due to evolving technology and the region’s growth, according to the report.

“The WireFire security review recommended a security analyst position that would focus on firewalls, intrusion detection, routine monitoring, antivirus, malware and security-related services and technologies,” Tiffany Moore, acting finance director, told directors. “This is needed as we receive up to 2,000 e-mails per day that are either spam or otherwise malicious.”

The cybersecurity analyst would serve as a lead and work alongside an infrastructure analyst and an IT/operational technologist, according to the report.

The transit superintendent would assist the RDN manager of transit operations and duties would include supervising road support agents and dispatchers with a goal of safe and reliable transit operation, according to the report.

READ ALSO: New rapid bus through Nanaimo suggested as part of transit plan

Also included is a recommendation to make permanent 15 positions which had been staffed by temporary workers. It would cost $1.3 million to maintain status quo, while the incremental cost of switching to full-time would be $105,000, or “eight per cent of the existing cost of [the] positions,” Moore said.

Among those positions would be two regional and community project engineers at a cost of $299,000. The engineering team would increase to four full-time equivalent project engineers, said Moore, with expertise in civil, electrical instrumental, mechanical and construction.

“This staff complement reduces the risk of regulatory non-compliance and retains invaluable knowledge and expertise,” Moore said. “Currently, the positions are funded through the French Creek Pollution Control expansion and the Departure Bay pump station and we have an ongoing need for the positions with our 1o-year capital plan that has about $250 million in projects.”

READ ALSO: RDN strengthens security after alert on publicly accessible property info

Meeting documents included a list of previously approved capital projects over $500,000 that are set to begin in 2022. While a total of $96 million was previously budgeted, incremental budget increases could see project costs nearly double to approximately $189 million. Pipe twinning at the Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre, set to be completed by 2030, was initially budgeted at $19 million and is now projected to cost $46 million, according to the report. Engineering work is set to begin in 2022, with $1 million budgeted.

Will Geselbracht, Lantzville director, asked about the cost increases and Moore said it’s a sign of the times.

“It has a lot to do with the environment that we’re in right now … every time we go out for tender, the prices are escalating and I think it’s happening, not only here with our projects at the RDN, but [with] all projects,” she said.

Douglas Holmes, RDN CAO, said steps are being taken to curb expenses.

“Part of the request for additional approvals for project engineers is to try to get more of our procurement technical understanding in house and away from the engineering firms, so that we could actually take a more thoughtful approach like that,” said Holmes. “We’ve had conversations about, how do we look at our projects, where does the expertise live, how do we build that in-house, given there isn’t going to be an abating of these capital projects any time soon.”

A preliminary budget will be brought before directors at the Nov. 23 board meeting. An amended plan will be presented Feb. 8 and budget adoption is anticipated on Feb. 22.

For more information on the RDN budget, go to www.getinvolved.rdn.ca/rdn-budget-talks.

READ ALSO: Sewage flows into ocean due to rain, pipe capacity, says RDN



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