Breaking News
Sechelt 2021 budget debate

Sechelt 2021 budget debate

Sparse public discussion on Sechelt’s 2021 budget has occurred at review opportunities hosted to date. At the Feb. 10 committee meeting, Communications Manager Julie Rogers called arts and culture “the most important function that the district provides to our citizens.” Despite this, no questions or kudos about the planned operations in that area came forward. The meeting featured reviews of 2021 budget and work plan proposals for that and other district functions.
The committee heard that updating the District’s website to better host public surveys and engagement is an idea included in the 2021 budget submissions. Those improvements will be covered under the Information Technology department allocation, which is proposed to have a budget of $34,000 higher than in 2020. Rogers said working within the existing website structure is a more affordable option than subscription-based engagement products like PlaceSpeak or Bang the Table.
On Feb. 16, Sechelt hosted a noon-hour online review session on its 2021 general operation budget. Discussions included plans for its administration and finance functions and the community services and planning and development departments. At session sign-in, there were no public attendees.
A previous online event hosted on Feb. 8 focused on this year‘s spending plans for wastewater. It saw District staff and council outnumber a handful of public attendees. In response to one of the four questions asked, Director of Finance David Douglas revealed that there are no plans to raise septage receiving fees in 2021. Those fees were adjusted in mid-2020. Sechelt will be assessing the adequacy of that rate change over this year before considering further adjustments.
In the current 2021 budget proposal, sewer parcel taxes in Sechelt are to remain steady at $274. A 23 percent increase in user rates that is proposed could bring the additional annual user fees for residential properties connected to the sewer to $607.
The higher fees will be used to cover operational costs of the sewer system, which are forecast to increase by $443,000 over 2020 levels. More than half of that proposed increase relates to maintenance and upgrading work needed at the Water Resource Centre (WRC). “More spending on annual maintenance means lower spending on major maintenance or asset replacement,“ said Douglas.
That facility is also understaffed, according to the District. Plans to hire an additional part-time operator for the WRC, plus a new staffer for the Dusty Road septage receiving site, are included in the 2021 proposed budget.
The District is continuing to receive online input about the sewer and arts and culture budgets on At a Jan. 27 District committee meeting, Douglas reported about online sewer system survey results. That survey, which opened before Christmas 2020, garnered 38 responses.
The next opportunity to hear debate and ask questions about departmental budgets for 2021 will be at the committee meeting scheduled for Feb. 24. Public engagement sessions on a council reviewed draft of the 2021 budget are slated to follow in late March. Connie Jordison

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll To Top