With crunch time fast approaching for Prince Rupert City Council to make some Budget decisions ( the necessary decisions and bylaws are required by May 15th) one final public session is coming up for Rupertite's to weigh in with their opinions on how best to address the City's financial requirements.
City Council has extended an invitation to a public forum for Wednesday May 8th, starting at 7 PM, at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre, where the options available for Council to consider will be presented by City staff, after which an opportunity for public comment will be made available.
With some unexpected financial surprises popping up in the last month, such things as property assessment reductions on industrial land that won't deliver anticipated revenues and the announcement that CityWest will not provide for a dividend to the city this year, the need to sharpen the pencils became evident at the last Council session.
Last Monday City Council voted in a 4-3 split to implement a reduction in staffing levels to try and provide for a cushion on their financial picture, a three percent across the board cut, which for the most part would affect the Public Works department.
At that time, the vote found Councillor's Ashley, Garon and Kinney in favour of the recommended cuts, while Councillors Thorkelson, Rice and Carlick-Pearson voted against the motion, the Mayor cast the deciding vote by telephone, siding with the affirmative.
Since then however it seems that City Staff has been rather busy, with the publication today of a sixteen page document, outlining three possible options for Council to consider, two of which would seem to leave the need for staffing cuts off the table.
Whether that means that Council is reconsidering that staff reduction decision of last weeks motions will no doubt be explained on Wednesday night.
The fact that Council is being presented with other options heading into the public session Wednesday, could lead some to believe that the spectre of those job cuts may not quite be the along the lines of a final decision just yet.
All three of the options will require a draw down of varying amounts on the Accumulated Operating surplus, with Option 1 requiring the largest withdrawal from that surplus and all three options provide for a 2 per cent tax increase.
Key to the other two options, the across the board expenditure reductions of 3 percent for Option 2 and the prospect of Reductions in service of Civic Amenities of Option 3.
For those attending the public forum, the talking points for Council will help keep everything in perspective as that public session gets underway.
The full document can be found here, all sixteen pages of financial prognostications and revelations, combined with a timeline of past Council deliberations on Financial matters.
The key points for those attending Wednesday nights session can be found on pages 14 and 15, where the three options are delivered.
Those three options are (click on each below to increase size):
Council will consider each of those three options and weigh the feedback from the public on Wednesday, prior to making their final determination by May 15h, on the Budget requirements and their financial plan moving towards next year.
You can review some of the various discussion points from Council through this year so far, from our Archive page here.
Our full Archive of past council sessions and links to information can be found here.
Media items on the Public Budget Session:
The Northern View-- Recreation cuts proposed, word of now CityWest dividend in 2014 as City struggles with Budget