Early Islands Trust budget feedback encouraged

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A member of the Saturna Island Residents Association is encouraging Trust Area residents to provide feedback about the 2022 Islands Trust budget before the Trust asks for feedback itself this year. 

Mairead Boland has created a two-question survey that models the Trust’s, but hopes public opinion can be provided far enough in advance to have some impact on the final budget. 

Boland said last November she became aware of the poor timing of the Islands Trust’s annual public feedback survey on the budget. 

“The survey is launched in late January, takes place over 10 days, survey results are provided to the Financial Planning Committee (FPC) in mid February and the budget is adopted by Trust Council approximately 10 working days later,” Boland explained. “How can this survey have any impact on the adopted budget, I asked myself?”

Boland wants to provide survey data to the FPC for its scheduled meeting on Jan. 19, not a month later and that much closer to the budget’s final adoption as is usually the case. 

The survey, which is done anonymously, simply asks which island the respondent is most connected to, and whether they support increasing taxes (and programs and services), decreasing taxes (and programs and services), or two “keep taxes the same” scenarios. 

“I’ve completely and utterly copied their format, the way they’ve asked the question, etc., so it can be completely compared to the previous three years now, if anybody’s curious to know what direction it’s heading in,” she said. 

“I would really like to get the survey as widely distributed as possible because I don’t want anyone to be able to say, ‘Oh, well, you know, you sent it to your friends. What could we expect?’”

The draft 2022/2023 budget is approximately $9.5 million, mainly supported by a property tax requisition that is proposed to be 5.16 per cent higher than last year. 

Boland also made a delegation to Trust Council on Dec. 1, 2021 when the draft budget was being discussed by trustees, suggesting that council use public feedback provided to them last February when drafting the current budget.

“The [2021] survey was unequivocally in favour of no increases to the budget, consistently across multiple questions,” said Boland. “A minority of 20 to 25 per cent wanted increased spending, a number halved from a high of 38 per cent in 2019.”

While the Trust usually asks for public input about its budget in February, it does also generally invite feedback at a budget@islandstrust.bc.ca email address.

The survey is available here.

For more information, email info4allourvoices@gmail.com.

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