RDN aims to keep increases to cost of living

NANAIMO – Budget discussions have begun at the Regional District of Nanaimo, where staff and board directors strive to keep the status quo

Preliminary numbers from the Regional District of Nanaimo 2013 proposed budget show that the district is in line with its five year financial plan – more or less.

“We’re pretty much on target, apart from new things that come up,” said Wendy Idema, RDN director of finance.

Changed service levels making the biggest impact to this year’s budget are transit expansion and the Island Corridor Foundation grant-in-aid.

The one-time, conditional grant-in-aid that was approved by the board in November adds an $877,000 increase to general services property tax revenue for 2013.

The original $945,000 amount that was approved is being offset by using $68,000 of Strategic Community Investment Funds the regional district is due to receive from the province this year.

This year’s preliminary budget aims to reduce the proposed increase in existing general services to 1.4 per cent, from 2.8 per cent, to keep budget increases within the target for cost of living index.

During a special committee of the whole meeting held Tuesday night, regional directors gave the nod to proposed service level reductions in various electoral areas and districts of the RDN totalling approximately $445,000, which will ultimately help the bottom line.

The majority of reductions have to do with deferring capital work that can be put off until next year, Idema said.

Some of the reductions include: $44,000 in corporate administration – decreasing arbitrations/bargaining and other professional fee budgets, deferring carpet replacement; $62,660 in reductions for regional parks operating costs; and $184,430 in Southern Community Wastewater services (Nanaimo and Lantzville).

The full list of proposed reductions can be found on the regional district’s website.

Regional directors were also presented with seven new requests for funding, two of which were denied.

Directors approved, at the committee level, a $30,000 allocation to the Nanaimo and Area Land Trust, as well as $11,500 to reimburse RDN committee volunteers for mileage.

The biggest request to be rejected was a $47,000 expense for installing web streaming service at board meetings.

The re-adjusted numbers have yet to be calculated, but Joe Stanhope, regional district board chairman, is confident the board has achieved close to its goal of 1.4-per cent service increase.

“We’re very close,” he said. “It’s obvious the board is aware of the state of the economy in our community and trying to keep any increases within the cost of living.”

Over the next couple of weeks, staff will revise the 2013-17 budget based on the changes made at Tuesday’s meeting, and present it, along with the five-year plan for each service on Jan. 29.

The next opportunity for changes will take place at the next RDN committee of the whole meting Feb. 12.

The district aims to approve the final five-year plan on March 26.

To view complete information on the 2013 provisional budget, please visit www.rdn.bc.ca and select the finances tab under ‘Services’.

Public participation and input on the financial plan is encouraged. Residents with any questions, concerns or suggestions, please contact the Regional District of Nanaimo at corpsrv@rdn.bc.ca or 250-390-4111.

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