CSWM Financial Plan FAQs

Financial Plan 2014 – 2018
- February 13, 2014 -

1.       What are the financial challenges for the Comox Strathcona waste management (CSWM) service? 

The CSWM service must meet the costs associated with the Ministry of Environment’s (MoE) permitting requirements as well as maintain solid waste operation requirements within provincial mandates. The need for additional revenue is driven mainly by the decreasing amount of material being disposed of at the landfill, the increasing operational and capital costs and the need to finance future debt. Over the next several years, funds are required to construct the new engineered lined landfill at the regional waste management centre in the Comox Valley, address landfill closures within the region and support environmental compliance regulations by addressing leachate and landfill gas management. 

In 2013, the CSWM service noticed an increase in diversion (mainly in construction and soil related waste) from the landfill which resulted in a decrease of revenue collected through tipping fees.  The service has adjusted the future year’s budget revenue in accordance with the volume collected. As a result of these revenue variances, the 2014-2018 financial plan projects a decrease of $750,000 in revenue starting in 2014.  

Staff have reduced the overall program costs, focused financial expenditures on core operational needs and the protection of the environment. However, to meet the financial requirements in the financial plan (2014 – 2018) additional revenue increases and diversion program changes are recommended. 

2.      How does the service plan on increasing revenue to pay for cost increases for the service? 

The board has recommended using a combination of fee-for-service and property tax levy to meet the operational costs, assist in funding capital improvements, and provide funding for future debt servicing.  If tipping fees are not adjusted or other revenue streams increased, the required capital improvements and provincially-regulated disposal operations will not occur and MoE operational compliance will not be met. 

3.      What are the recommended tipping fee increases for 2014? 

The board has recommended implementing a site access fee and additional tipping fee changes effective July 1, 2014 at the regional disposal facilities in the Comox Valley and in Campbell River.  It’s estimated that the new schedule of fees would increase revenue up to an average of $750,000 over the next 5 years.  

The following table highlights the recommended changes effective July 1, 2014:

Description Recommended cost
Site access fee (would be applied to all vehicles that pass over scales at the Comox Valley & Campbell River waste management centres) $4/per vehicle
Minimum load charge (currently $4 for loads not weighing more than 60 kilograms) $6 for loads not weighing more than 100 kilograms
Clean fill (soil or turf suitable for landfill cover, currently charged at $5/tonne; loads less than one tonne are currently accepted for free.) $15/tonne for loads greater than 100 kilograms and loads less than 100 kilograms would be charged the minimum load fee. 
Effective February 14th, 2014
Gypsum (drywall) – currently at $200/tonne $110/tonne – will now be charged at construction and demolition debris rates during the temporary suspension of diversion program. 

 4.      When and why is the service recommending suspending the dirty wood waste and drywall diversion programs?

These two programs are being temporarily suspended to reduce the cost of the service to the CVRD and will result in a reduction of drywall tipping fees effective February 14th, 2014 from $200/tonne to $110/tonne. 

The resulting landfill tonnages would increase by an acceptable amount of eight per cent or 5,000 tonnes/year.  These temporary modifications still remain in accordance with the Comox Strathcona solid waste management plan projected targets for diversion. CSWM staff will continue to monitor and assess the impact of suspending these programs and will report back to the board with the information. At the February, 13th board meeting, the Comox Strathcona waste management board approved a motion to have staff work towards reinstating the wood waste and drywall diversion programs for the 2015 Comox Strathcona waste management budget.

Average estimated operational budget impacts – over the next five years
Suspension of wood waste and drywall diversion

Diversion Program

2014 Operations Impacts

(budget decrease)

2015 – 2018 Operations Impact (budget decrease)

Wood waste

($445,342)

($445,342)

Drywall

($174,383)

($123,756)

Estimated total decrease

($619,725)

($569,098)

The suspension of the programs would begin February 14, 2014 and the tipping fee changes for drywall will be collected at the construction and demolition debris rate of $110/tonne. 

5.      Why is the service recommending a site access fee?

Along with the financial prudency of implementing this fee to support capital requirements and reduce the tax requisition proposed in the 2014-2018 financial plan, the fee is uniformly beneficial to all disposal customers.  The current bylaw exempts some users from paying fees and there’s an associated cost to providing services like scrap metal and household hazardous waste.

Other regional districts on Vancouver Island, such as the Capital Regional District and the Regional District of Nanaimo, have a direct access fee or equivalent site access fee.   

6.      Why is the minimum load charge and volume amount changing?

The Comox Strathcona waste management service’s current minimum charge of $4 for loads not weighing more than 60 kilograms is not in compliance with Measurement Canada requirements (Specifications Relating to Non-automatic Weighing Devices (SI)98-81), Section 62). Increasing the weight to 100 kilograms meets the regulations and therefore the fees will increase to $6 for loads not weighing more than 100 kilograms. 

7.      Why is the service considering increasing personnel costs at a time of financial restraint?
The new staffing positions are required to mitigate health, safety and risk issues relating to the regional waste management centre in the Comox Valley.  It also addresses capacity needs relating to the management and operation of the environmental aspects of landfill gas collection and leachate management.  Three key staffing positions added to the solid waste team (assistant manager of CSWM disposal facilities operations, engineering analyst and the waste management operation staff) support the Comox Valley waste management centre which is open 7 days-a-week, 10 hours each day, 363 days of the year for public and commercial hauling.

Staffing requirements in the 2014 – 2018 financial plan include:

Position Title

2014 – 2018

Assistant manager of CSWM disposal facilities operations

Full time (1/3 of 2014)

Engineering analyst

Full-time (1/2 of 2014)

Waste management operations staff

Full-time (1/2 of 2014)

Student

Three months

8.      How will the service manage the depleting reserve funds?

  • As of December 31, 2012, the balances of the capital reserves for the CSWM service totalled $10,823,626. Reserves are expected to be depleted in the proposed 2014 – 2018 financial plan with debt servicing beginning in 2014.  Debt servicing means the principal and interest payments on funds borrowed for capital projects.
  • The future expenditure reserves fund balance at December 31, 2012 was $628,855.  The goal is to maintain a balance in this reserve of $500,000 or more to provide coverage for the CVRD’s deductible payment in the event of liability claims and the CVRD’s self-insured status in regards to our Municipal Insurance Authority (MIA) coverage.

The proposed 2014 – 2018 financial plan provides for contributions to the future expenditure reserve in 2014-2018, the capital works and equipment reserve in 2014-2018 and the landfill closure reserve commencing in 2018.  At the February 2014 CSWM board meeting, staff provided the board a twenty year financial analysis model [PDF - 448 KB] that will include solid waste system expenses and revenue predictions. 

9.      What impact does the landfill closures have on the budget?

The Comox Strathcona waste management solid waste management plan identifies landfill improvements and closure of all five (Campbell River, Comox, Gold River, Tahsis and Zeballos) existing MOE non-compliant landfills over the next ten years.  The plan also recognizes the preferred option of expanding the Comox Valley waste management centre in accordance with MoE environmental criteria for new landfills which includes bottom liners, leachate systems, landfill gas systems, groundwater control systems, groundwater monitoring, and additional safety plans and procedures to protect workers at the waste centres. 

The CSWM is required to maintain reserves in accordance with provincial regulations (Landfill Criteria for Municipal Solid Waste, Ministry of Environment, Part 8, 1993) and Public Sector Accounting Board Guideline 3270 for solid waste landfill closure and post closure liability and include determining the requirement for closure and post-closure care, and estimating the liability based on the sites’ volumetric capacity and usage. 

10.   When is the 2014 - 2018 financial plan adopted?

The financial plan for this service is adopted by the CVRD board by way of a budget bylaw in March and must be adopted prior to March 31st as per section 815(1) of the Local Government Act.  For budget details and presentation information, visit www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/planbyservice  and scroll down to “300 Environmental Health and Services” and then select “340-391 Liquid & Solid Waste”,  at the bottom of the page is 391- Comox Strathcona waste management budget.