Against a backdrop of looming budget talks for 2013 the Regional District Board of Directors were informed of the cost of a list of upgrades to the RDOS telecommunications network at last week’s board meeting.
At an estimated cost of 1.5 to two million dollars, the system improvements are going to be a significant budget item in the coming year, or years, depending on how the board implements the improvements.
Telecommunications improvements aren’t the only big budget issue the board will be dealing with in the coming years, as the regional district begins to look at such things as additional curbside collection of kitchen waste and associated infrastructure costs.
Often spurred by provincial edicts, some of these intiatives may not make sense – or be cost effective – in a sparsely populated, low income region such as the RDOS. There is increasing pressure for municipal governments to put the brakes on spending, much like the province has been forced to do.
The board will increasingly have their work cut out for them, to prevent local government from moving toward its own “fiscal cliff.” On the one hand, there seems to be no end of public demand for new and improved infrastructure at the regional district level. On the other hand, with an aging local population, many of whom live on fixed incomes, and a lethargic local economy, there seems to be no end for the need for belt tightening and restraint when spending the public purse.
While that conflict is nothing new in itself, it nonetheless is a trend that appears to be headed – more rapidly than in the past – towards unsustainability.