Solid waste costs nudge Mount Waddington district taxes upwards

PORT McNEILL — The Regional District of Mount Waddington kept a lid on the expenses it could control in the coming year. But the one expense it couldn't control will result in a bump to residents' tax bills in the coming year, according to the Five Year Financial Plan presented to the board at its regular meeting Mar. 15.

PORT McNEILL — The Regional District of Mount Waddington kept a lid on the expenses it could control in the coming year. But the one expense it couldn’t control will result in a bump to residents’ tax bills in the coming year, according to the Five Year Financial Plan presented to the board at its regular meeting Mar. 15.

Debt service for the Phase III expansion at 7 Mile Landfill boosted the cost for solid waste more than 20 per cent, which makes up the bulk of a budget increase that will add about $6 per $100,000 assessed property value of the district’s constituents, or $15 for a $250,000 home.

And the amount could have been higher, were it not for some 11th-hour trimming.

“The board will note the solid waste budget has been amended from $554,000 to $529,450,” Regional District Treasurer Joe Mackenzie said in his report. “The original increase was 26 per cent, which would have cost an additional $8 per $100,000 off assessed value. This new figure shaves $2 off that.”

The 2011 budget holds the line on general government expenses, the regional emergency plan, parks, planning and economic development. A slight bump in 911 service fees has been offset by provincial funding to a degree that it actually cuts the mill rate by 81 cents for the non-solid waste portion of the budget.

Phase I and II of 7 Mile Landfill, initially scheduled to be capped in 2010, have had their lifespan extended, partly through a change in usable airspace and partly through increased recycling and diversion of salvageable material from the waste stream, Operations Manager Patrick Donaghy said.

But it will be covered in 2012, and a substantial capital outlay was necessary to design and build Phase III — the debt on that expenditure creating the jump in this year’s budget.

“You look at the capital expenditure, and you can see why the (budget) increase is pretty much sitting there in solid waste,” Port Hardy Mayor Bev Parnham said. “It’s one we know has been coming, and it was regulated.”

And Mackenzie warned that this will not be the last time the district will be dealing with increased landfill costs.

“Starting in 2022, future boards will have to raise taxes, due to two additional expansion projects,” he said.

The board approved first, second and third readings of the budget, then adopted the budget with a unanimous vote — and a further caution from board chair Al Huddlestan.

“We’ve got a long-term issue to deal with,” Huddlestan said. “Short-term solutions are not an answer.”