Regional district sets tax decrease for city

Russell Dyson presented the ACRD’s five-year financial plan to city council.

The draft budget for the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) proposes a total decrease of approximately $50,000 in the tax requisition to the city in 2017.

Russel Dyson, ACRD CAO, presented the draft budget to city council during a meeting on Monday night.

“We have 48 services, but there’s only 12 services that the city participates in,” he explained. “That means that you’re only paying for 12 of the services.”

Some of these services include the North Island 911, the Alberni Valley Emergency Program, solid waste management, the Alberni Valley Airport and the Sproat Lake marine patrol.

Last year, the city contributed $1.2 million to the tax requisition of the regional district. Of that contribution, only $200,000, or 9.5% of this cost went to the wages of the regional district. The rest of the cost paid for services.

Last year’s major projects included the Alberni Valley Regional Airport’s major expansion project and planning and preparation for the Island Agriculture Show. “These are services that [the city] participated in,” said Dyson.

This year, the regional district will continue work on the airport expansion. They are also looking at expanding the landfill, as well as implementation of solid waste material bans. “I know the city is very interested in organics, and that will be a priority for looking at those programs this year,” said Dyson.

The majority of the district’s money is spent on landfills, water systems, and airports, which are all costly operations. Most revenue comes from sales service, or totals in taxation.

“Your piece of the pie for regional services is 38 per cent,” said Dyson. “And that’s because of the value of your land improvements relative to the other partners. So bear in mind that for those services, that’s your percentage of the cost.”

Most costs will be decreasing, with a few exceptions like the regional airport and the landfill.

“Landfill costs are going to have to increase to provide more programs in order to eliminate some of the waste,” said Dyson. The purpose of eliminating waste, he explained, is to avoid having to collect methane gas from the landfill, which would be a $13 million cost.

“But the bottom line is, the services that you participate in, you’ll be paying a few thousand dollars less,” he summarized.

This means residential homes in the city will be looking at a slight tax decrease. “That home that would have paid approximately $96 last year, this year they’re going to pay $86,” said Dyson. “We’re still providing the same level of service, the city residents are going to see a decrease.”

ACRD has given first reading to the budget bylaw. Additional amendments are possible, and the second reading of the bylaw will take place on March 15 at 6 p.m. at the regional district.

It is a public meeting and there will be an opportunity for public input.