The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) board ended its first round of budget deliberations last week by approving about $500,000 in new spending items that will be funded by taxation, treasurer Tina Perreault said in an interview Monday.
"The biggest ticket item was $200,000 toward legal fees for the Sechelt Aquatic Centre legal claim," Perreault said. "The rationale there is that at some time there will be an anticipated recovery."
The SCRD filed a civil claim in the B.C. Supreme Court last September against Vic Davies Architect Ltd. and 15 contractors for a litany of alleged structural defects during the aquatic centre build from 2006 to 2008. The allegations have not been proven in court and the matter remains unresolved.
Perreault said other big ticket items approved in round one include $115,000 for three capital projects in the recreation budget - an electrical and heat exchange upgrade at the Gibsons and District Aquatic Facility ($80,000), dehumidification equipment at the Gibsons and Area Community Centre ($25,000) and safety items for the Sunshine Coast Arena in Sechelt ($10,000).
Directors also approved:
A $75,000 increase to capital reserves for the Gibsons and District Volunteer Fire Department, to cover turnout gear and other costs created in part by adding 10 new recruits to the department, Perreault said.
$50,000 to parks reserves for replacement of a parks department hut.
$23,000 under rural planning toward the continuation of the Sunshine Coast housing committee for the second year of a three-year commitment.
The impact of the transit future plan on the 2014 budget "is quite minor," she said. "We're talking maybe $50,000 worth of taxation. The biggest impact would be in 2015."
The second round of budget meetings is scheduled for Feb. 18 to 20, and will include more capital funding requests.
"The biggest one that's to come in round two is replacement of the deck floor at Gibsons pool, estimated at $125,000," Perreault said, adding that staff would present a revised cost estimate for the project during round two.
Round two will also address "significant shortfalls in the landfill budget," she said.
"As well, building inspection has a significant deficit that could impact round two by $40,000. The other thing coming forward for round two is youth funding - the Sechelt Youth Centre and youth programs in general - that could add $40,000."
One change for the 2014 budget was a transfer of about $38 million in assessment for independent power projects from Area F to Area B, after BC Assessment "coded it to Area F in error," Perreault said.
While the change means overall taxation in Area B would go up about 12 per cent after round one, the average residential property would see only a two per cent increase in taxes.
Conversely, overall taxation for Area F was down by more than five per cent after round one, but the average residential tax went up by four per cent.
For other areas, the average residential tax increase after round one was under one per cent for Area A, just over two per cent for Area D, and seven per cent for Area E.
Representing a smaller portion of their actual tax bill than the rural areas, municipalities are seeing increases from round one of 5.5 per cent for the Town of Gibsons, 6.3 per cent for the District of Sechelt, and 8.6 per cent for the Sechelt Indian Government District.
Numbers are still preliminary and could change before round two begins next month.
© Coast Reporter