In late March, the Capital Regional District (CRD) Board approved its 2014 budget, focused on enhancing infrastructure and providing services that are priorities for the region. The 2014 operating expenditure portion of the budget ($192.6 million) pays for a range of more than 200 CRD services to over 360,000 people in the region. In addition, the 2014 capital budget targets $130.2 million in capital projects.
The Seaterra program accounts for $63.2 million of the capital budget, and the remaining $67 million will be invested in growth upgrades, construction of trails, electoral area fire hall construction and improvements to the drinking water and sewer systems.
The increase in CRD’s core operating costs has been limited to 1.17 per cent, which will primarily be offset by an approximate 1 per cent increase in the tax base resulting from growth and new construction over the past year.
The major impacts of the budget are:
• Final $2 increase to the regional parks land acquisition levy – the levy will now stabilize at an average $20 per household. The parks levy generates more than $3.7 million to secure park land within the region.
• Splitting the final funding for the Island Corridor Foundation over 2014 and 2015 will result in a $300,000 decrease in the 2014 budget.
• The primary increase in the budget affects the core municipalities participating in the Seaterra program. Seaterra is building the foundation for wastewater treatment for the core area. Seaterra accounts for a 2.59 percent increase to the requisition for those municipalities which have chosen to recover their Seaterra related costs via requisition. These costs may be collected via requisition, user fees or a combination of both as decided by the participating municipality. The CRD began planning for wastewater treatment facilities in 2006, at the request of the Minister of Environment and to bring the region into compliance with federal and provincial requirements.
• The three Saanich Peninsula municipalities will see a significant decrease in CRD requisition costs due to the retirement of debt related to borrowing for the CRD Saanich Peninsula Sewage Treatment Plant.
• Included in this year’s budget is funding for the new post-disaster fire hall buildings for North Galiano Island and for East Sooke, with values of $700,000 and $2.3 million respectively.
• For the Capital Regional Hospital District (CRHD), the requisition is set to increase by 1.99 per cent. The CRHD provides local share of capital costs for the development of health infrastructure in the region.
The CRD provides a range of key services:
• regional services are provided to all residents
• sub-regional services are provided to residents of participating municipalities
• local services are provided to individual municipalities, electoral areas or groups of residents within local service areas.
Where someone resides will determine how the CRD budget affects them. For some municipalities the CRD requisition has gone down, for others it has increased. This affects each municipality and its taxpayers differently, depending on what services they receive. The impact for each municipal and electoral area, and additional information about the 2014 financial plan, are available at www.crd.bc.ca/about/financial-accountability
Overall the CRD’s budget has two components: the operating portion, and the capital portion. Operating costs pay for the daily business of the CRD. This portion of the budget pays for labour costs, supplies, programs, services and repayment of debt for major projects. Requisition funding and income from fees and service charges, and other grant funding sources fund the operating budget.
The capital investment is included in an annual plan to sustain and enhance infrastructure in the region. This includes acquisition of buildings, facilities, construction of trails, and upgrades to capital assets, such as water treatment plants and sewers.
The 2014 Financial Plan received preliminary approval by the Board in November 2013. The plan was prepared based on the development of service plan summaries, which support the work plan and resource requirements for the upcoming year. The service plan summaries are approved by various CRD Board standing committees and commissions. For local services, the respective commissions review and recommend their budgets through the Electoral Area Directors to the Board. In the three electoral areas this process includes a significant amount of work undertaken by many appointed commissioners who volunteer their services in the Southern Gulf Islands, Salt Spring Island, and Juan de Fuca.