SQCRD approves its 2012 budget

The Skeena - Queen Charlotte Regional district has approve a no-surprises budget for 2012.

The Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District approved its 2012 budget last Friday, meaning that now the municipalities can begin their own budgeting processes.

The regional district’s budget is essentially a status quo budget with no projected surpluses or deficits for the year. In short,  the district plans to break even.

That said, the regional district is modestly increasing its tax revenues to keep up with increasing costs; they will be receiving an additional $22,999 in property tax revenues collected by the provincial government – an overall budget increase of 1.92 per cent over last year.

An increase of that size doesn’t seem like much, but the district’s municipalities will see their share of the budget tax’s revenues increase $41,460 (a 23.62 per cent overall increase) in order to make up for reductions in tax revenues from the electoral areas on the Haida Gwaii (municipalities on the islands are seeing their share going up however).

Prince Rupert’s share of the district’s tax revenues will increase by $28,751 up to a total of $509,953; an increase of 5.97 per cent.

The regional district’s general expenses for 2012 are expected to be $831,511 an increase of about $55,000 from last year. Most of that number can be attributed to the purchase of new digital money management system for local governments earlier this year known as VADIM, which cost the district a one-time expense of $52,740.

The district’s total revenues do not cover all of these expenses, but what would be a deficit of $83,172 is being covered by surplus money left over from last year, meaning that the district effectively breaks even.

Residential taxes will have to be increased slightly to pay for the district’s general administration expenses. The 2012 rate will be $16.59 per every $100,000 of assessed property value, which is a $1.01 increase from last year’s rate. Prince Rupert tax revenues make up 72.6 per cent of the district’s tax requisitions.

Other than that there hasn’t been many other significant changes to the district’s administration costs this year.

The budget for the Prince Rupert Regional Archives is being increased slightly by $702 to cover an unexpected deficit from last year for that amount. Other than that, the archive’s expenses remain at the usual level of $68,004 a year and is budgeted to break even in 2012.

Prince Rupert provides 90.1 per cent of the tax revenue for the archive’s budget, and the property tax rate to cover the archive’s expenses is being increased by 1 cent this year to $3.80  per every $100,000 of assessed property values.

The budget for the North Pacific Cannery is also effectively the same as last year, with costs holding steady at the usual amount $88,200. The district is spending $297 less than that amount and using an unexpected surplus of the same amount from last year in order to break even.

Prince Rupert and Port Edward  each provide 40 per cent of the taxes used to fund the cannery and the residential tax rates for both communities to gather their contributions are actually going down. Prince Rupert’s is dropping 5 cents to 2.18 per 100,000 and Port Ed’s is dropping $1.20  to $42.21 per $100,000.

Prince Rupert’s  recycling depot may have gone well over -budget last year, but  it still ended up with an unexpected surplus of $19,817 for 2011.

Because of this, the regional district is putting a total of $21,846 aside for later equipment purchases – a big change from the $2,029 put aside last year – while still keeping a balanced budget for the recycling depot which is expected to have $585,801of expenses this year.

Putting all that money in reserve for equipment purchases will be a controversial decision for some recyclers who wanted to see the district increase the Saturday hours increased instead.

The tax revenue portion of the depot’s budget is still being increased over last year’s by about $10,000 to $182,317. Prince Rupert residents provide 90.1 per cent of this amount and the residential tax rate to support the depot is being increased by 41 cents to $10.72 per every $100,000.