Nichol suggests streamlining of regional district services

Savings could be applied to other services in need of increases in spending

  • Jul. 2, 2015 4:00 p.m.

Scott Stanfield

Record staff

 

Rod Nichol would like to see a greater amount of public involvement with services provided by the Comox Valley Regional District.

The Area B director is advocating for a public process that looks at all services, and considers if any non-essential ones could be reduced or eliminated. The idea is that tax requisition savings could be applied to another service that requires an increase.

“There’s so many costs we can’t defer,” Nichol said Tuesday at committee of the whole. “I’m really concerned about the number of services people would like to see.”

While he understands the importance of water, sewer and the like, Nichol believes the CVRD has reached a stage where it needs to prioritize services. He feels the board should aim to hold the 2016 tax requisition as close to zero per cent as possible.

The committee approved his request for staff to prepare a report that considers a process for public engagement using an independent third party to prioritize services with the objective of minimizing tax requisition increases.

Comox director Ken Grant feels a review would be a “worthy thing.”

“I think you’re dead right,” Grant said. “There’s a cost to them (services). I think this could be a good exercise.”

Courtenay director Manno Theos also lauded Nichol’s idea, suggesting some of the approximate 100 services could be streamlined or combined.

Cumberland director Gwyn Sproule opposed Nichol’s request. She is not keen on paying someone to chime in on subjects to which board members have a say at budget time.

“We’re the overseer,” Courtenay director Erik Eriksson said. “Why hire someone to oversee our administration?”

Nichol hears time and again how constituents are at the end of their rope with taxes, which are going to increase with future projects.

“The whole point of this is to involve the public,” he said.

Comox director Barbara Price suggests treading carefully when it comes to services.

“They come out for a good reason,” she said. “Regional districts are very complex.”

To attempt to simplify things can be difficult, and even costly in the end, Price noted.