RDN budget planning to start earlier than previous years

Annual financial planning at the Regional District of Nanaimo will start several months earlier this year after the board approved a new planning schedule.

Meetings for the 2025-29 financial plan process will begin in May with a review of the board’s strategic plan in the context of financial plan process followed by a surplus policy report and recreation and parks capital information report. Beginning in July, the board will begin hearing departmental level of service presentations that will include an analysis of reduction or slowing down of service delivery in each area.

“I don’t think we did as good of a job as we could have done in talking about the departmental summaries as part of financial planning process this year,” Chief Administrative Officer Doug Holmes acknowledged when presenting the proposed schedule at the April 9 board meeting.

Board involvement in the planning process has typically begun in November with provisional budget approval scheduled before the end of the year. During last year’s process, some directors requested information on impacts of service cuts or not approving proposed increases in an effort to reduce the tax requisition, but staff pushed back that those decisions should come from the elected board.

The board asking staff to cut the budget “puts us in a position of balancing one service versus another and I don’t think that’s a place where staff belongs,” Holmes said April 9. Having more data on what reductions could look like earlier in the budgeting process, however, is a “fair ask,” Holmes said.

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