The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) has wrapped up round one of budget meetings, with preliminary numbers showing the two municipalities bearing the heaviest increases in taxation over last year.
At the end of the first round, the Town of Gibsons saw the largest increase from last year, at 5.5 per cent, followed by District of Sechelt (4.5 per cent), Elphinstone (3.7 per cent), Halfmoon Bay (two per cent) and Sechelt Indian Government District (1.7 per cent).
West Howe Sound rose by less than one per cent, Pender Harbour/Egmont saw virtually no change and Roberts Creek dropped by less than one per cent.
Board chair Garry Nohr said he expects the final numbers could rise by another two per cent after the board concludes the budget process in March.
“I’d say the maximum people can look at is a two per cent increase above what’s there,” Nohr said. “I suspect in my area it’ll probably be halfway.”
The prediction, he added, might not apply as much to Gibsons and Sechelt.
“I think they’re close to finishing their functions and it’s mostly the areas now,” he said.
One of the reasons for the Town of Gibsons’ increase, he said, was the decision to adopt the Gibsons and District Volunteer Fire Department’s strategic plan, which includes $71,000 for increased honorariums and training rates.
About two per cent of costs in the 2013 budget can be attributed to the province downloading services and imposing new requirements on regional districts, Nohr said.
“It’s like assessment — you have no choice about those things,” he said. “I think in the end it’ll be a reasonable budget for what we’re doing. I don’t think it’s going to be a shock to people.”
The round-one numbers “are very preliminary,” SCRD treasurer Tina Perreault cautioned, noting that year-end surpluses and deficits have not yet been finalized.
Major functions that are still awaiting decisions by the board, she said, include community recreation (capital funding and youth program funding), Dakota Ridge, community parks, solid waste, ports and regional water.
Round-two budget meetings are scheduled for the middle of February. Perreault said updated numbers will be available on the SCRD website at the opening of the second round.