While the discussions at preliminary meetings could sometimes be drawn out, the final Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District (CSRHD) board meeting on March 18 to adopt the budget was brisk.
The meeting was adjourned after about 15 minutes.
Through earlier discussions the board had supported a move to drop the tax requisition amount this year by $4.4 million to a total of $12.6 million for property owners throughout the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts. With additional sources such as grants in lieu, investment interest, transfers and previous years’ surplus taken into account, the total for the bylaw amounts to just under $16 million.
The only question prior to the vote came from director Gerald Whalley, who represents the Sayward Valley in SRD. He asked whether the hospital district could direct unrestricted surplus toward further paying down the debt on the two North Island Hospital campuses that opened in 2017.
“We cannot pay off the debt with the Municipal Finance Authority early,” chair Charlie Cornfield responded.
Staff reiterated the point that their borrowing through MFA is locked in for the term until 2028 at which time they will have paid off the hospital debt.
The board passed the annual budget bylaw unanimously.
At the same meeting, the board also passed the annual capital expenditures bylaw. Most of the $1,880,000 bylaw is for unallocated capital projects and equipment. It also includes unconditional grants of $5,000 each that go to help medical clinics in a half dozen rural communities throughout the service area. The board also passed the bylaw unanimously.