By Eric Bourque
As it prepares its budget for the coming year, Waste Check is bracing for reduced funding from the Resource Recovery Fund Board (RRFB Nova Scotia) and is turning to the municipal units in Region 7 – Yarmouth and Digby counties – to make up the difference.
The numbers could change, but Waste Check may be facing a reduction of up to about 27 per cent in funding from the RRFB compared to what it had been anticipating for its 2014-15 fiscal year.
Waste Check received $467,404 from the RRFB for its 2013-14 year, but the amount for 2014-15 could – in what Waste Check general manager Gus Green describes as a worst-case scenario – drop to as low as $339,250.
Various factors – including commodity prices and return rates -- have had an impact on the RRFB and the amount of money it can give out, Green said.
To help make up for the shortfall, Waste Check is asking for a combined contribution of $150,000 from the six municipal units in Yarmouth and Digby counties, the area Waste Check serves.
The units typically would give Waste Check a combined $100,000 a year or about 16 per cent of Waste Check’s annual budget, although for the current fiscal year that amount had been reduced to $50,000.
Waste Check already has trimmed its overall budget from $617,404 for 2013-14 to $609,250 for 2014-15.
“We’ve done everything we can to reduce costs for next year,” Green said. “Any area where there were costs that could be reduced, we reduced them.”
Green says he realizes the municipal units already have their own financial pressures to deal with, but he says Waste Check has accomplished a great deal and the organization wants to build on this success.
“We feel they (the municipal units) get very good value for the amount of money that they contribute (to Waste Check), but times are tough right now and they’re feeling the pain,” he said. “They’ve got to make a lot of hard decisions. We understand that, but we really hope to get the opportunity to continue this good work.”
If a balance cannot be reached between what Waste Check loses in RRFB funding and what it can gain from the municipal units, Green says, it may have to look at cutting programs or positions, but he says he hopes it won’t come to that.
“We’ve been able to achieve so much,” he said. “We’d like to be able to keep building on that.”
Waste Check has been leading the province in waste diversion – District 7 being the first region to dip under the province’s much talked about 300-kilogram waste reduction target – and Waste Check has been recognized for its accomplishments. In 2013 Waste Check received the Mobius award for region of the year for the second straight time and fourth time overall.
Referring to the challenges facing the RRFB, Green says the word from their CEO is that the future may be brighter, that this could be the bottom of the downward spiral.
“So really we’re just trying to keep our heads above water until things start to pick up again for the RRFB,” Green said.
Despite the budget situation, though, Waste Check has come up with a new three-year strategic plan. The strategy – along with a plan on how Waste Check intends to put the strategy into action -- and the budget are to be discussed at Waste Check’s next board meeting in February.