Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

Regional District of Nanaimo directors adopted a provisional budget at their last meeting of the year with provisos for staff not to act on some new staff positions before additional information could be delivered in January.

Directors adopted the 2024-28 financial plan on Dec. 12 with several electoral area directors expressing discomfort with the planned increases. A motion to defer adoption until January was defeated nine votes to eight with Chief Administrative Officer Doug Holmes expressing before the vote that staff need every month of 2024 to complete the year’s work plan and that deferral would create significant delays.

Instead, directors passed four motions for staff not to act on four new positions included in the financial plan until the board could receive further information on the implications of removing the positions. Those positions are information technologist, fire services operator, financial systems coordinator and parks stewardship coordinator.

A motion that staff not act on work related to the regional parks-budgeted Morden Colliery Trail bridge project until further deliberations could be had was defeated.

Currently, the provisional budget for Electoral Area B (Gabriola, Mudge, DeCourcy) includes increases in the tax requisition related to the Vancouver Island Regional Library levy and 16 service areas: EV charging stations, hazardous properties, community grants, regional growth strategy, noise control, Descanso Bay emergency wharf, animal control, District 68 emergency 911, solid waste management, emergency planning, southern community recreation, electoral area administration, regional parks, administration, community parks and Gabriola transit contribution. Community parks, VIRL and administration have the highest increases. Three service areas would see a drop in their budgets while eight would remain unchanged from 2023.

As of the Dec. 12 meeting, the tax requisition for Area B is $2,351,993. The general services cost per $100,000 is $77.31, an increase of $7.72 over 2023. Parcel taxes are unchanged at $16.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 9. Board chair Vanessa Craig signalled a special board meeting to discuss the paused staff positions and any further budget motions could be scheduled for January.

Additional information that will be incorporated into the financial plan next year includes 2024 assessments from BC Assessment Authority and final parcel counts. An amended plan is recommended for adoption by Feb. 27, 2024.

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