The Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District (SQCRD) has released the first draft of its new 2011 budget last week and the district is projecting a deficit of $63,795.
Regional district taxes for Prince Rupert residents are going to be reduced, but the same cannot be said for all those in other communities within the SQCRD.
The deficit will ultimately have to be added to the district’s remaining debt of $186,038. However, if the five-year plan is followed the debt could be reduced to a mere $11,000 by 2015.
In Prince Rupert, all property tax rates – everything from residential to industrial – is going to be reduced by 4.4 per cent. This will save a homeowner in the city $1.49 for every $100,000 their home is worth. Port Edward residents will also see a tax reduction on their homes and businesses of 5.7 per cent. Other communities inside the SQRCD will see theirs rise, like Masset, where taxes are going up 8.7 per cent.
While none of the numbers were final by the time this story went to press, the first draft projects an increase in both revenues and spending from 2010. The regional district is planning to take in $5.7-million in 2011, almost a million more than the year before.
The budget of almost every SQCRD program is being increased, some considerably, others only a little.
Despite all this extra spending, the district is still spending half-a-million dollars less than it did last year. This is because the district closed a landfill in 2010 and is now saving about $700,000.
Funding for the Prince Rupert recycling centre has been a hot topic at the monthly meetings of district board. Local recycling activist, Jean Martin, has been pushing the issue after the centre had to cut its operating ours on Saturdays in order to save money.
Martin’s relentless efforts have targeted Prince Rupert’s mayor, Jack Mussallem, despite the fact that the hour change was a decision made by the entire board. This year, the recycling program’s budget was increased to $555,456, an increase of about 10 per cent.
The North Pacific Cannery, which just received a federal grant of a quarter-million dollars, will also be getting small increase in money from the regional district. The cannery will be given 84,000 for 2011, which is an increase of about 5 per cent.
The Prince Rupert Regional archives are getting a 5.4 perc ent increase to $68,004.
All these numbers are from the first draft of the budget and could change before the final vote on the budget is held on March 18.