As I have referenced in my Horsemen of the Tax Apocalypse post, the SCRD is facing huge costs, and a bunch of them are landing in the 2021 budget. Our CAO, Dean McKinley, gave the following introduction on February 1. I’m sharing it below.
There are reams of 2021 budget documents on the SCRD website, and a communications plan around tax increases. Suffice it to say, if you want to know the details, there are lots of details to know.
CAO’s Budget Introduction
If we look back to only one short year ago, we came together to consider a bold and ambitious budget that would move forward well in excess of 100 key projects and initiatives in support of the Board’s strategic plan. Shortly thereafter, the COVID pandemic forced us to completely rearrange our lives and transform our business practices to fit an uncertain and constantly shifting landscape of emerging priorities.
The COVID pandemic resulted in an unprecedented level of challenge to our service delivery, our revenue generation and stretched our individual capacities to their very limits. Our board supported several emergency measures that allowed staff to adapt quickly and ensure that our services and key initiatives and projects were able to continue with as little disruption as possible. I am incredibly grateful for the tireless efforts of our staff, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to continue to advance important work and respond to the needs of our residents in the face of a global pandemic.
Our Board sets the strategic direction for the Sunshine Coast Regional District throughout their four-year term and in September of 2020, the Board updated their 2019-2023 strategic plan with Strategic Focus areas of Engagement and Communication, Asset Stewardship, Working together, Community Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation and Advocacy.
Included in the budget proposals are several new staff positions designed to support the projects and initiatives proposed. Staff have weighed various options when considering new positions including using consultants as opposed to additional staff. Given the large number of projects and the length of time these projects will take to complete, staff had made a deliberate decision to recommend the addition of these new positions in support of the strategic plan as this work will span several years and require increased and ongoing staff capacity and expertise. We believe there is value in building this capacity right here on the Sunshine Coast.
In preparing the round one budget proposals, staff have continued to apply various lenses, including additional staffing requirements to the projects and initiatives presented. In 2021, staff are presenting 226 projects – 109 of which are carry forward projects and 117 are new projects from across all divisions for consideration. These projects, if approved by the Board, are intended to improve SCRD operations and services to residents on the Sunshine Coast.
Staff are committed to increasing transparency, enhancing our communications and delivering results for the residents of the Sunshine Coast. While the Strategic plan provides clear direction and a path forward for our team and the budget proposals follow that direction, it is not an exhaustive list of the essential operational work we do as a regional district annually. In addition to the projects in the round one budget proposals, our dedicated staff continue to work diligently to provide the services and programs that our residents require and develop plans and lay the foundational work that will help the Sunshine Coast move into the future.