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Budget 2014 preparation

ColumnHead-GarryNohrWith the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) conference over, elected officials on the Coast are waiting to hear if their requests for grant funding from provincial ministries have been successful, as all local governments are starting to look at priorities for the 2014 budget. In the past two months, politicians have been busy with Coast-wide public meetings on food security, agricultural planning, completion of the Park and Recreation Master Plan draft, and the solid waste management (MMBC) program. All of these initiatives require funding that has not been assigned. Staff and directors therefore take time to understand public priorities for services and projects, and if there is not confirmation of provincial funding for any projects, staff and directors will have to reassess their priorities. As one SCRD director points out to all of us on the board, we need to analyze cost and value of service before moving forward.

Official Community Plans (OCPs) are examples of an effective cost-value ratio. Although a considerable amount of volunteer effort is put in by rural OCP committees, funding goes to staff work plans and contracts for technical people to assist with aspects of these plans. The cost is reasonable and the value is extremely high, as these documents are guides for future development in each regional area. Over the past three years, OCPs for four of the rural areas – Elphinstone, Howe Sound, Roberts Creek, and Halfmoon Bay – have either been fully completed or are in the final stages.

This fall, staff will present work plans to the board to explain the projects coming out of the strategic plan and time required for staff to complete these for next year. Some projects are carry-overs from previous years and others are new. All have been costed, and their value determined, by staff and the SCRD board. What throws this process off is when the staff and board are presented with additional items not in the strategic plan, such as recent independent power projects, a new aggregate mine, logging that concerns local residents, or development of a new subdivision. Many times these projects are of high value to constituents, so a change to the work plan is necessary. When there is any new priority, a decision is required to free up staff to work on the new item, and therefore to change funding of the work plan for that person or group. With any change, there is fallout, as some projects are dropped or postponed, and this can cause angst to some taxpayers who feel that a project in their area should be of the highest priority.

Please contact me about the SCRD financial budget or any other concern at 604-741-2427 or

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