The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) budget process begins in earnest on Monday, Jan. 14, as directors wade into round one of budget meetings for 2013.
Heading into the process, all departments have been allowed to increase their budgets by up to 1.9 per cent, but only for uncontrollable costs such as energy and fuel, SCRD board chair Garry Nohr said Wednesday.
While large spending items could come out of the SCRD’s parks and recreation master plan and solid waste management plan, Nohr said he does not expect those costs to have a major budget impact until next year.
“It’s the first time going into a budget where I haven’t felt there’s one area that’s going to ask for a huge hit,” he said.
For this year’s budget, Nohr said he expects to see relatively modest new spending requests for youth programs, fire services and the Dakota Ridge recreation area.
“One of the goals of the regional district is to get more involved in youth services on the Sunshine Coast. We’re going to see how the youth centres in Sechelt and Gibsons are funded and also youth workers,” Nohr said. “I don’t expect it will be a big cost — maybe $100,000 for both. Is it worth it? I think so.”
While fire service spending could go up if the board agrees to fund honorariums proposed under the Gibsons and District volunteer fire department strategic plan, Nohr said he is not aware of any other departments making similar requests this year.
A new trail groomer requested by staff for Dakota Ridge could have a substantial price tag, but the cost would be spread out over five years, he said.
Nohr said he expected directors will indicate their budget targets at the Monday meeting, adding that he was still waiting to see the full binder on this year’s document before setting his own target.
“We’re at a point where most people wouldn’t stand for more than a two per cent increase,” he said.
The budget process is expected to wrap up in mid-March. The deadline to submit the budget bylaw to the province is March 31.