Proposed tax increase lowered; RDN receiving infrastructure funding from province

Tax requisition reductions made by Regional District of Nanaimo directors in February have been incorporated into the proposed 2023 budget; however, the adjusted numbers don’t include newly confirmed funding the regional district will receive from the B.C. government’s growing communities fund.

As of Feb. 28, Electoral Area B’s total tax requisition was set at $2.12 million, up $316,612 from 2022 yet $300,000 less than the recommended 2023 plan. The general services property tax was sitting at $70.39 per $100,000 in assessed property value, a decrease of about one dollar from last year. Following the reductions made by the board of directors, that meant the tax increase for an average Area B homeowner (home value $737,731) was slated to be $79 versus the $88 initially proposed. The main reductions attributable to that drop are related to administration and souther community recreation.

The tax requisition for the entire regional district at the end of February was $79.1 million, a 9.6 per cent increase over 2022. The plan for 2024 is now higher than initially proposed, staff said. It includes assumptions that wages will increase by 2 per cent and other costs and inflation will rise by 3 per cent.

The province released allocations for the growing communities fund on March 3. The RDN will receive $7,929,000 out of the one-time $1 billion fund. The province made the fund announcement Feb. 10 and is for local governments to put toward community infrastructure and amenities. Funds come from B.C.’s surplus shown in the second quarter financial report. Grant amounts distributed to each municipality and regional district were determined using a formula that incorporates an initial $500,000 per municipality or district, and further adjustments for population size and per-capita population growth between 2016 and 2021, based on BC Stats data, the province said.

RDN staff said on Feb. 28 they weren’t expecting to hear dollar amounts or restrictions related to funding allocation until the end of March. A special board meeting was scheduled for March 7 related to the financial plan and the 2023 regional parks capital budget summary.

When the fund was announced, the province said monies may be used for things like recreation facilities, parks and water-treatment plants, as well as other community infrastructure. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs is expected to notify municipalities and regional districts on the use of their funds in the coming weeks. On Feb. 10, the province said via press release the funds “will help communities prepare for future growth and build the amenities needed to support new home construction, especially with the Housing Supply Act where targets are set.”

Adoption of the RDN’s financial plan is scheduled for March 14.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder