Cowichan Valley Regional District finance staff will host a workshop for council members in November on budgeting options, service reviews and how best to integrate them.
The decision was made at the June 8 board meeting after a staff report was presented on other ways to build the district’s annual budget, which was requested by board members. of directors in April.
At the Committee of the Whole meeting on April 27, principals had a lengthy discussion about a staff recommendation that the district set a 5% tax increase target for 2023 and begin the budget process for next year on this basis.
Ben Maartman, director of North Oyster/Diamond, said at the time that he wanted more information before making decisions and presented a successful motion for the staff report on alternative methods of budget construction.
Barbra Mohan, CVRD’s general manager of business services, said in the report that the district’s budget process has continually improved over time to reflect the council’s need to better understand the budget in order to make decisions and streamline a year-long process for staff who must both manage and prepare budgets for more than 178 functions.
She said sometimes the process was revised to support the learning curve of new board members, or alternatively, to reflect the experience of board members.
“Changes have also been made to respond to societal and economic pressures on the taxpayer, such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mohan said.
“Given the large number of individual budgets and the number of employees involved in the process, each change in the process costs a lot of staff time.”
Mohan said that at this stage of the budget process for 2023, it is not possible to change the method by which staff prepare the budget for next year.
She said that the preparation of the 2023 budget has already started and the allocation budgets have already been submitted in order to allow enough time to integrate the allocations into the budget envelopes for staff, who are starting their work on the rest of the budgets. in July.
“Budget formation and distribution of budget envelopes must be completed by the end of June to meet the deadlines of the adopted budget calendar,” Mohan said.
“As no mandate was given at the (April meeting), staff were directed to prepare the most conservative and cost-conscious budget possible (for 2023) while maintaining service levels current.”
Mohan said if the board is interested in alternative budget methods for the 2024 budget, those decisions should be made before the conclusion of the 2023 budget process, which is February 22, 2023.
She said there are a number of ways local governments can approach budgeting, and the council could give guidance to their preferred staff, if any, before the start of the next budget year so that the staff can prepare appropriately to administer a new process.
The options she proposed include zero-based budgeting, priority-based budgeting, and multi-year budgeting.
Alison Nicholson, Manager of Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora, presented the motion for the November workshop to consider budgeting alternatives.
Blaise Salmon, manager of Mill Bay/Malahat, said he supported the motion.
“I want to add in case it’s relevant when we get there that the tax notices for 2022 are out, and there are some in my constituency whose taxes are above the average tax increase (in the CVRD 4.09% in 2022) and some below,” he said.
“I heard they were going from minus 6% to an increase of 16%. I mention this just for context. We spend a lot of time trying to hit our fiscal targets, but the reality is there’s quite a range.