RDN’s proposed 2021 financial plan shows little change for Area B taxes

·3 min read

Staff presented the Regional District of Nanaimo’s proposed 2021-25 Financial Plan to the Committee of the Whole Nov. 24, and it shows a near-zero change over 2020 for Electoral Area B (Gabriola, Mudge, DeCourcy).

The estimated general services property tax change for Area B would see a total requisition increase of $34,164. The proposed increase to general services property tax is less than one dollar with no change for the regional parcel tax. That would put the 2021 property tax for an average home (valued at $419,176) sitting at $418, a three-dollar increase. That number will be updated once property value assessments are released by BC Assessment on Dec. 31.

For Area B, community parks account for the largest increase for 2021 followed by solid waste management and regional parks operations. Decreases are slated for the Gabriola taxi saver program, recreation and transit contribution.

The community park projects for Area B planned for 2021 are the completion of the Village Way Path, construction of Huxley Community Skate Park and a 707 Community Park fire study. Other projects include an Area B evacuation route plan.

The proposal for 2021 shows a tax requisition of $65.7 million for the entire regional district, $1.7 million less than what was projected for the year as part of the 2020-24 financial plan that was approved in February 2020.

Total operating expenses sit at $129 million.

Property and parcel taxes make up 35 per cent of revenues.

There are some areas of the tax requisition the RDN has no control over, such as the Vancouver Island Regional Library contribution, which will increase by $50,560 over last year, and emergency 911 services, which will increase by $17,865.

Capital projects planned for 2021 are budgeted to cost $56.5 million. Projects that Area B contributes to include $1.02 million for landfill-related purchases and upgrades and $681,000 for regional parks.

Among the $10 million in funds already approved for external organizations are $5,000 for the Gabriola Arts Council, $136,788 for the Gabriola Community Bus Foundation, $65,000 for the Gabriola Island Chamber of Commerce for southern community economic development, $16,000 for the Gabriola Museum & Archive Society for Area B’s Port Theatre contribution, $78,705 for the Gabriola Recreation Society and $8,000 for People for a Healthy Community’s taxi saver program.

Earlier this fall, the board directed staff to include the annual cost to hold socially distant in-person meetings during the pandemic in the upcoming financial plan. The $110,000 price tag would have included the rental fees for the Vancouver Island Conference Centre as RDN facilities are not large enough to ensure enough physical distance between the dozens of personnel who attend board meetings. But on Tuesday, directors unanimously passed a motion to remove that from the financial plan.

Like other jurisdictions, the RDN experienced revenue losses this year due to COVID-19, including as a result of closed recreation facilities. In early November, the RDN learned it would receive $1,169,000 from the province as part of its COVID-19 Safe Restart Plan. The funding can only be used for specific areas; the board of directors will discuss how to use it at a future meeting.

The board reviews the financial plan again in December and February before adoption by March 31, 2021.

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