The Referendum: Money Matters
by Joan Selby and the Sustainable Health Funding Committee
On British Columbia’s municipal elections day, Saturday, October 20, 2018, eligible
Saturna voters* will be asked to vote “Yes” or “No” on the Medical Clinic funding referendum.
To assist you in making an informed decision when you vote, the Sustainable Health
Funding Committee (SHFC) has prepared the following vital information about the financial
aspects of using tax dollars to cover all of or some of the community’s portion of
Medical Clinic expenses.
If the referendum passes - that is if 50%+1 of the ballots cast are marked “Yes” - the
Saturna Community Club (SCS) will be eligible to receive up to $40,000 annually to offset
the Saturna community’s portion of Medical Clinic operations.
A. The Budget Forecast, the Referendum Ceiling, and the Annual Tax
There are three main budget figures to be aware of: the forecast, the ceiling and the
annual tax requisition.
1. The Budget Forecast: $26,000 to $29,000 Over the Next 7 Years
The seven year budget forecast for the clinic, publicized on the SHFC’s Fact Sheet #5
(February 2018), suggests that the maximum amount to be requisitioned through taxes
will range between $26,000 and $29,000 - ‘the forecast’ - in the time period 2019/20 to
2025/26. These totals assume no donations or clinic rentals (given the uncertainty of
revenue from such sources) and are based on only the predictable revenue from Island
Health Authority. The ‘forecast’ is what we expect and intend the community portion of
Medical Clinic costs to be.
2. The Ceiling: Insurance Against Change
As noted above, a successful referendum will allow a maximum of $40,000 - ‘the ceiling’
- to be requisitioned from taxes on an annual basis to support the Medical Clinic.
3. The Annual Tax Requisition: What We Would Actually Ask For
The actual tax requisition will be based on the ‘forecast’ amount minus any donations
from the Recycling Garage Sale and other sources, and funds from the Lamb BBQ. The
latter will depend on net BBQ revenues each year and the extent of other community
needs. For Year One (2019/20), we are estimating the requisition to be approximately
$20,000, although that figure could change slightly once the financial statements for the
2018 BBQ have been finalized and fully reviewed.
Then why is the Saturna Community Club asking for a $40,000 ceiling?
It is common for organizations receiving tax revenue - including the Saturna Island Fire
Protection Society (SIFPS), Saturna Parks and Recreation Commission, and the Saturna
Library - to set a ceiling above the projected budget requirement in order to reduce
the risk that, because of unforeseen circumstances, the approved requisition is inadequate
to cover expenses. If there were an unanticipated increase in costs, or if there
were a possible need to expand clinic services, increased community contributions
could be required. Without the flexibility provided by the $40,000 ceiling, we would either
have to pass on opportunities or spend another $8,000 for a new referendum seeking
a higher ceiling.
The intention is, of course - as the budget projections indicate - not to have to access
the $40,000 limit. The annual forecasts over the next 7 years, in fact, never exceed
$30,000. There is ample evidence on Saturna that the public can trust the organizations
receiving tax revenues to keep the annual tax requisition below the ceiling. SIFPS,
for example, serves as a model, as it currently requisitions only about two thirds of
its maximum allotment in any given year.
B. Approval of the Annual Tax Requisition
Consistent with the procedures used by SIFPS, Galiano Health Care Society, and others,
the Directors of the SCC will decide the amount of tax, with opportunities for community
feedback through email to Directors or by attending the 2nd Quarterly Meeting of
the Community Club, held every mid-September. Notice of the budget and the proposed
tax requisition will be widely circulated in the community prior to that Quarterly
C. Specific Expenses in the Clinic Budgets
1. Paid Positions
There are many paid positions in non-profit/volunteer organizations on Saturna, in part
because it is difficult to find new volunteers, especially for administrative positions and
book-keeping. (For example, the SCC has advertised for both a paid book-keeper and a
paid minute-taker without success.). Book-keeping, in particular, has become very technical
and sophisticated, with requirements from various levels of government. Assuming
a successful referendum, strict accounting for the expenditure of tax dollars will be critical.
The 7 year clinic budget forecast provides for book-keeper wages of $1,200 in Year One
(2019/20) and a 2% inflationary increase in subsequent years. This figure is based on
60 hours/year at $20/hour, for an average of 5 hours per month. The budget forecast
also provides for $5,800 for a part-time clinic manager/medical services director starting
in Year Two, again with an inflationary increase the following years. This figure is based
on a $20/hour wage for 290 hours/year, for an average of 24 hours per month. The clinic
manager would oversee the operations of the Medical Clinic (including acquiring clinic
supplies and equipment, hiring clinic staff, and negotiating rental of the clinic with private
health service providers), liaise with Island Health representatives, and carry out
other duties as necessary.
Since the establishment of the Medical Clinic in the late 1970s, its operations have been
handled almost exclusively by volunteers. In fact, in an average year, the Health Services
Committee, which oversees clinic operations, donates over 900 person hours to
accomplish the task.
It is assumed that a paid book-keeper will be a necessity. However, the clinic manager/
medical services director will be a paid position only if there is no appropriate volunteer
to take it on - but we have to be prepared for that possibility. Given that a budget will be
approved on an annual basis, staff compensation can be included if necessary or deleted
from the budget if it is not.
2. Other Operational Expenses
“All Other Operating Expenses” include acquisition of cleaning supplies & equipment;
office supplies and equipment; and occasional replacement of furniture.
D. Individual Financial Impact of a Successful Referendum
There is an easy method for estimating your personal additional tax per year if the referendum
succeeds. The starting point is the official requisition figure that is approved
each year after consultation with the community. Let’s assume, for illustrative purposes,
that the requisition for Year One - 2019/20 - was the full budget forecast cost of $28,000
as outlined in the 7 year budget forecast on Fact Sheet #5. (Thanks to donations and
BBQ funds available for this year, the actual requisition for 2019/20 will be around
A $28,000 tax requisition is about 18% of what SIFPS requisitioned in 2018/19
($155,000). If you look at what you paid for SIPFS on your latest tax bill, you can multiply
that amount by 18% (.18) to obtain an estimate of what you would be asked to pay
for the Medical Clinic. For example, if your property was assessed at $417,000, you
would have paid $259.40 in taxes for SIFPS. For the Medical Clinic, you would pay
about 18% of that $259.40 or $46.59 in taxes. That sum - the equivalent of one roundtrip
fare for standard vehicle and driver to Swartz Bay, or a couple of pizzas at the Saturna
Cafe, or ten lattes at The Bus - doesn’t strike us as too high a price to pay to help
ensure that Saturna residents and visitors have local access to quality medical care.
We hope you will agree and vote “Yes” on October 20, 2018.
This is the question you will see on your referendum ballot:
“Are you in favour of the Capital Regional District (CRD) Board adopting Bylaw
No. 4231, “Saturna Island Medical Clinic Contribution Service Establishment By
law No.1, 2018” authorizing the CRD to establish a service to contribute to costs
incurred by the Saturna Community Club in operating the Saturna Island Med
ical Clinic and to raise a maximum annual requisition of the greater of FORTY
THOUSAND DOLLARS ($40,000) or $0.17 per ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS
($1,000) of taxable land and improvements for the purpose of funding the operating
costs of the service.”
If you have any questions about the Medical Clinic budget or the upcoming referendum,
please direct them to the following Community Club Directors: Charles Reif at
firstname.lastname@example.org, Dawn Wood at email@example.com, or Jacques Campbell at campbellfarm@
Please also plan to attend the Saturna Community Club’s 2nd Quarterly Meeting on
September 17, 2018 at 7:30 pm at the Community Hall where the budget and tax requisition
for 2019/20 will be discussed by all attendees and a decision made by the SCC
*Eligible voters are Saturna residents and non-resident property owners who:
• Are Canadian citizens
• Have been residents of British Columbia for at least 6 months
• Are 18 years of age or older on the day of the vote
• Have lived on or owned property on Saturna for at least 30 days before the vote
The Referendum: Money Matters