Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Councillor Thorkelson's Boots are made for talking!

"I think we should be putting the boots to the Port"-- Councillor Joy Thorkelson outlining her thoughts, on how perhaps the City of Prince Rupert could possibly address its current financial difficulties.

Sometime in the next few days Don Krussel of the Prince Rupert Port Authority is most likely going to receive a letter, or maybe even a  phone call, inviting he and the Port of Prince Rupert to join in discussion with the City of Prince Rupert in a bid to address the city's current financial plight.

That would appear to be one of the main takeaways from Monday's lengthy and extensive review of the City's Financial situation and Budget process.

The topic of the Port and its financial possibilities, is one that morphed into one of the main themes towards the end  of the special budget session.

A night which saw Councillor Thorkelson taking the lead it seems in a bid to gain more financial benefit from the various port related developments in the community.

The dire nature of the city's financials was reviewed at the opening of the session, with the delivery of yet more poor forecasts for civic revenues. With word from Dan Rodin, the City's outgoing Chief Financial Officer, that the assessment figures from BC Assessments would result in less revenue coming into City coffers this year.

(You can review Mr. Rodin's full financial report from the video replay at the 1 minute to 47 minute mark of the April 15th session)

With that disappointing financial forecast part of the discussion on the night, the need to make better use of current financial options, or seek out other forms of financial resources became the focus of the night.

It was a subject that was addressed by some members of the public gallery who offered up their thoughts during the course of the night's proceedings (see our review of those presentations from the City Council Timeline)

Councillor Thorkelson picked up on one theme from a member of the public gallery from that public comment session of earlier in the night,  outlining how she believes that the Port of Prince Rupert should be making a larger contribution to the city's financial needs.

And while she would apparently like to see the Port help to shave off the pending fiscal shortfall of 150,000 dollars or so, she did offer up the suggestion that if nothing else, the Port may wish to pick up the 10 percent reduction to community groups that Council was discussing during the course of Monday's session.

The Port came in for much in the way of review on Monday, with Mr. Rodin explaining the nature of the current model of funding to the city over port related development, which is in the way of monies in lieu of taxation.

A model that appears to have the City and Port looking at different ends of the valuation scale, when it comes to determining a value on port owned property in the community.

Councillor Thorkelson expressed her soon to be famous "putting the boots to" declaration towards the end of Monday's (April 15) session, (around the 2 hour 22 minute mark for those inclined to follow along on the video replay), not the first time she has expressed her frustration with the nature of the back and forth between Port and City.

In previous council meetings Councillor Thorkelson and others have had issues with the Port over such items as waterfront development, the prospect of LNG infrastructure and the Pinnacle Pellet plant to name but a few of their concerns.

In Monday's session she expressed her view of the reality of the moment, that of the Port growing, the real estate market improving and yet the City finding itself struggling to work on its financial requirements for the day to day operation of the city.

During the course of the Budget session of Monday it was that issue of revenue streams that took centre stage. Making for the  topic she seems the most annoyed over;  the Port over and its relationship with the city.

Setting the stage for what she and Council hopes will be a conversation, one that may provide for a hopeful cushion to the tough times that the City is currently facing.

We're not sure what reaction that the Port may have to her request, the Mayor towards the end of Monday's session didn't appear  to offer up much in the way of an indication that he thought she would have success.

And, he may be on to something, especially should Port officials happen upon a dictionary and do not take particularly kindly to the definition of having the boots put to them.

If nothing else, it certainly doesn't seem like it would be a helpful opening remark, should they all actually gather around a table sometime to look at the big picture.

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