Strathcona Regional district board gets first look at budget

Strathcona Regional District directors got their first look Wednesday at the budget numbers for 2014

Strathcona Regional District directors got their first look Wednesday at the budget numbers for 2014.

Directors were presented with the base budget at this week’s board meeting, which lays out the ongoing work plan.

The board is already facing a two per cent increase related to labour requirements.

Dawn Christenson, financial services manager for the regional district, said while the numbers in the base budget are preliminary, the labour increase is certain.

“We do know our labour costs,” Christenson told the board during its meeting Wednesday afternoon.

“We do know we have a two per cent increase for labour costs.”

In 2013, costs for general administration were $1.87 million while in 2014, they’re projected to be $1.91 million, a difference of $40.32 or an increase of 2.2 per cent.

“At this point we’re really just looking at an inflationary increase,” Christenson said.

As part of the base budget, Russ Hotsenpiller, chief administrative officer of the regional district, said the regional district needs to work on a succession plan.

“We’re on the verge of losing some real experience in the organization and bridging that gap will certainly be a real challenge,” Hotsenpiller said.

The full budget is expected to be publicly released in a draft form on January 17 in time for budget workshops on January 30 and 31.

A second draft will go to the board on February 12, with the expectation that the final budget will be presented to the board at its Feb. 27 meeting.

Final adoption of the budget is expected on either March 12 or March 27.

The budget has to go to the province for final approval before the end of March, 2014.

Director Andy Adams suggested that for 2015 the financial plan be done earlier than is projected for this year.

“We’re seeing adoption not until a few weeks before the deadline which doesn’t leave much room for changes,” Adams said.

Christenson agreed the plan could be done sooner if the directors were able to nail down the direction they want the board to go before Christmas.